Probably the most controversial aspect of Premier League football at the moment is the use of VAR.
So, what is it? Video Assistant Referee (commonly known as VAR) is a new video technology system
which was introduced to the Premier League at the start of the 2019-20 season. All 20 clubs
unanimously voted for VAR to be introduced.
The system was created to be used only in deciding errors and missed incidents in four different
match-changing situations. These are goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents and mistaken
identity. According to The Premier League’s website VAR, “will positively influence decision making
and lead to more correct and fairer judgments.”
So why all the negativity?
This new referee technology was supposed to revolutionise the game of football in the EPL. It was
supposed to make games better and allow in-game referees to better officiate the game with fairer
calls and decisions.
However, since its introduction, VAR has dominated coverage. I can think of many games, not
including our beloved Hammers which have had controversial decisions made by this seemingly
flawed system. I won`t even start on some of the ridiculous offsides and penalty decisions given
What I and presumably thousands of others don`t understand is why the use of VAR has created
conflict and ‘unfairness’ when a call is given to one challenge which was not given to a similar
challenge by the other team.
However, the biggest quarrel that involves VAR is its very harsh offside goal rules. In 2021, the
Independent`s sports journalist Jack de Menezes wrote that the Premier League are not using the
video assistant referee system correctly, it should stick to clear and obvious fouls and not be relied
on pinpointing the marginal offside calls.
VAR has been constantly used to call players who are millimeters offside even with parts of the body
that cannot be used to score goals such as hands and arms. These time-wasting calls have frustrated
players, coaches, fans and the entire football community and they are calling for immediate change
to way VAR is being used in the Premier League.
Most football fans have agreed that VAR is ruining the flow and spirit of the game as it seems like
every match there are controversial decisions made by the system that stops play for long periods of
time. They feel as if the sport they love is not natural anymore and the constant use of VAR is
polluting the way in which the sport should be played.
Even though VAR can be seen as an advancement for the sport, if it wishes to improve and satisfy
the majority of both football fans and players, the system has to be used in a proper and balanced
way and is not relied on for every decision in the game.
Overall, VAR has had a catastrophic impact on the function of English league football and
unfortunately not in a good way. We all love the idea of having better and more accurate decisions
made in a football match but VAR has brought it to the extent in the slightest errors with non-
goalscoring body parts of players being called offside or the blatantly obvious penalties and fouls
being given or not.
These events ruin the spirit of football as it now a sport of millimetres and fouls rather than the free-
flowing game all football fans love and enjoy.