VAR divides pundits

Local pundits are divided over the use of video assistant referee technology at the unfolding Russia World Cup.

28 June 2018 | Sports

Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Mannetti believes the video assistant referee (VAR) system being used at the World Cup has helped improve the games on many levels, but has failed to be consistent at times.

The VAR system is being used at the 2018 Russia World Cup for the first time, but has solicited varying degrees of criticism from some football fans. However, Mannetti regards the system as a proper helping hand, introduced to minimise mistakes by referees.

“I still think it's not 100% as it is not consistent in all matches. You will have a referee giving a penalty for an offence, and when a similar incident happens in another match, he turns a blind eye.

“The system gets rid of the majority errors, but it will not reach a level where it is 100% consistent. It is however good to know that the referee is getting extra help, especially at high-level tournaments like the World Cup,” Manetti said.

He added the VAR system would have been appreciated when they played at the African Nations Championship (Chan) finals earlier this year.

“A team we played received a penalty which should not have been allowed. In that case, the VAR system would have been welcome,” he said.

Senior women footballer Stacy Naris said the VAR system has overturned many decisions and also produced some concerns for various teams.

“With the VAR system in place many decisions taken by the referees can be reviewed and even though it disturbs the flow of the game, many mistakes can be rectified.

“The second penalty that was supposed to be awarded to Nigeria on Tuesday night was clearly a penalty, but we should also understand football at this level comes with a lot of politics,” Naris lamented.

Argentina won the match 2-1, with

Lionel Messi scoring the opening goal for the South Americans, while their second goal came from Marcos Rojo. Victor Moses of Nigeria scored a penalty for his side. A second appeal for a penalty was not granted, even though many believed it should have been given to the Super Eagles.

“It's unfortunate that other countries have to suffer, especially African countries, but all in all, I think that system is good,” Naris added.

“My only concern is: Will referees depend on the VAR system for every major call, disrupting the flow of the match and adding more stoppage time?

“I do not want to see players worrying about celebrating after scoring, because they're thinking about the VAR,” said Beverly Mubango, a local football fan.



How the system works

Four referees sit in a video operation room in full kit and follow the action live inside the stadium on many TV screens.

Different cameras, which include two dedicated offside ones, theoretically give them all the angles they need to aid them in their decisions. The referee can communicate directly with the VAR team via a radio microphone.

The VAR system can only be used for 'match-changing situations' - goals, penalty decisions, red cards and cases of mistaken identity.

LIMBA MUPETAMI

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