The job of a referee can be a tricky one; with an unpopular decision leading to the wrath of players and passionate fans alike.
The outcome of a game can often rest on the judgement of a referee, a responsibility which requires a fair, sharp mind and a balanced perspective.
Fortunately, modern technology can alleviate some of this pressure; with the video assistant referee (VAR) lightening the load.
The VAR cleverly reviews decisions made by the referee using video footage and a headset, and fans are apparantly all for it.
A survey of 2,000 football fans, commissioned by Compare.bet, discovered how – on the whole – most fans feel the VAR has a positive impact. Indeed, 74 per cent believe this nifty tech helps to eliminate the risk of referees being influenced by players.
A further 71 per cent regard VAR as helping to ‘level the playing field’ between smaller clubs and the big six. Such clubs are widely regarded to benefit most of all from referee’s decisions during ‘David v Goliath’ cup games.
A whopping 94 per cent of supporters admitted to disagreeing with the ref during matches, however they don’t seem to be too confident they could do a better job.
Only eight per cent of football supporters feel they could hack being a Premier League official, with just five per cent viewing referees to have an ‘easy job.’
World football is mired in corruption, trafficking of players (from the global south), racism, homophobia, and general inequality but @FIFAcom thinks the only injustices happen on the pitch. That’s how we got the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). #abolishFIFA pic.twitter.com/DynAlI6CZu
— undocumented and underpaid Ⓐ (@seizethegoals) March 22, 2018
Jupp Heynckes: "Basically, I think the video assistant referee is a good institution. The VAR will be effective on the long-term and will work out. Everything needs time." #FCBayern [BILD] pic.twitter.com/YiDtmoZL88
— Home Bayern (@HomeBayern___) March 20, 2018
However, the way the VAR is used is still very much up for debate, with 61 per cent regarding VAR as having a detrimental effects on the match-day atmosphere.
Nearly six out of ten supporters think stoppages caused by VAR checks could actually be harmful to the sport. Furthermore, there are substantial fears among fans in regards to referees becoming increasingly dependent on VAR.
A sizeable thirty per cent agreed VAR could actually make referees lazier due to the reliance on this back-up during decision making process.
Mauricio Pochettino branded the Video Assistant Referee system a "nightmare" after yesterday's game
What is everyone's opinion on VAR and how effective it is used? pic.twitter.com/8D4DtJ7eNA
— Team FA (@TeamFA) March 18, 2018
— Unión Magdalena Primos (@primosdelciclon) March 16, 2018
A Compare.bet spokesperson stated:
Despite all the media debate, the underlying feeling among UK football fans is positive.
They understand the pressures and difficulties of the modern game and are open to using technology to support referees.
The spokesperson added:
With FIFA’s recent approval of VAR for use during World Cup 2018, it’s more crucial than ever to get fans on side and ensure VAR doesn’t detract from the spectacle of the tournament.
Fifa has confirmed the use of VAR, Video Assistant Referee tech at the World Cup in Russia this year. Do you think that's a good idea?
Retweet if you are in support of VAR, like if you are not. pic.twitter.com/TP0VxoPls7
— askifang (@askifang) March 24, 2018
When you find out that FIFA are using Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in the World Cup in Russia this summer. pic.twitter.com/rze9qbjtn5
— Mike (@MikeTalksFooty) March 16, 2018
This survey also revealed the top ten football moments supporters most want to go back in time and use VAR for:
1. Maradona’s famous ‘Hand of God’ goal for Argentina versus England during the 1986 World Cup.
2. Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal for England versus Germany during the 2010 World Cup.
3. Thierry Henry’s handball for France versus Ireland during a 2009 World Cup playoff.
4. Liverpool’s Luis Suarez biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic back in 2013.
5. Sol Campbell’s disallowed goal for England versus Portugal during the Euro 2004 quarter finals.
6. Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs being sent off for handball back in 2014, despite the handball having being committed by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
7. Pedro Mendes’ disallowed 50-yard goal for Tottenham versus Man United back in 2005.
8. Manchester City’s Ben Thatcher elbowing Portsmouth’s Pedro Mendes back in 2006.
9. Luis Garcia’s ‘Ghost Goal’ for Liverpool versus Chelsea during the Champions League semi-final back in 2005.
10. Holland’s Ronald Koeman’s foul against England’s David Platt during a 1993 World Cup qualifier.
An enormous 76 per cent of supporters think football history would look much, much different if VAR had been in use during certain key matches.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 25, 2018
What is your opinion on the ongoing VAR debate?
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.