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  • Anna Dugdale

The Pros and Cons to Football Technology

By Anna Dugdale

In this day and age, football as a sport is constantly developing and changing in all aspects of the game. Not only are transfer fees rising, but styles of play are also changing, and more money is being injected into the game, technology is changing the game as we know it.

The latest technological introduction has been VAR, also known as video assistant referee. In essence, VAR is a qualified referee who watches the game on a number of screens and has access to several slow-motion replays which they can view to assist referees on the pitch. It has been introduced with the aim to make football a more fair and accurate game, ensuring the correct decisions are given.

However, VAR has faced plenty of criticism since its introduction. The main one is that it disrupts the tempo and pace of play. While a goal is being checked, it leaves the teams and fans in limbo over whether the goal has stood or not. It kills the rush and the thrill of the game, especially for those in the stadium. It can also trivialise things such as offsides and handballs, with the rules being unclear for the first season. It led to many decisions contradicting one another, which led to anger and distaste for VAR amongst fans.

Many believe VAR would be better if there was consistency. In some competitions, like the Euros this past summer, VAR ran smoothly and didn’t disrupt game time anywhere near as much. VAR functioned well and allowed games to still be played with minimal disruption. It allowed important decisions to be made with the full knowledge of the situation. Perhaps one of the reasons it ran smoother in the Euros was because they had eight referees instead of the three in the Premier League. Furthermore, international football has different consequences to domestic. Bookings have immediate consequences in tournament football as they can lead to a player missing the crucial next match, which is important as it is a knockout game.

This season in the Premier League the use of VAR has changed. Instead of debating trivial things, VAR now only will review "clear and obvious errors" in four game-changing incidents: goals, penalties, straight red cards, and mistaken identity. Referees will be asked to judge whether things are serious enough to deserve consequence.

Football is not the only sport that has video technology, rugby and cricket have it as well. Many believe that it took both these sports many years to get to a good standard using video technology.

However, the introduction of technology in football is not new. Goal line technology was introduced less than 10 years ago, in 2012. It is technology that is crucial to football as we know it today. This introduction just shows that technological advances in football are not necessarily always a bad thing, they can wholly improve the game and make it fairer. Players themselves wear electronic performance and tracking systems, which monitors their performance and can help them improve.

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