Why VAR Has Been So Successful In North American Sport


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VAR, which stands for video assistant referee, is an extra referee of sorts who is in a position to review decisions made by the officials on or at the side of the pitch. There have been calls for VAR to be introduced for many years in multiple sports, and after being adopted, it appears to be more successful, with some more than others.

When we say that other sports use VAR, we mean that there are processes to review decisions. So what you could suggest is that these other versions have then gone on to inspire VAR as we know it in English football, for example. Because let’s face it, each sport is different and there must be an approach to suit.

A prime example of a method that works is in American football and, therefore, the NFL. They have the NFL Instant Replay Process, and this goes through multiple stages such as a challenge happening, the process to prepare for consultation between relevant parties to happen, then the review, and finally, the decision.

The process in the NFL is a smooth one, and over the years, getting to the right decision is taking less time on average. Multiple people benefit from this; with teams then able to get on with the game, fans aren’t seeing extended interruptions, and bettors will feel the benefit, knowing they can place bets on NFL fixtures around the more technical outcomes rather than just who will win.

So, you could suggest that in North American sports, the going is good where VAR and the like are concerned. Maybe it’s because they have been in place for longer, so the various sports have adjusted successfully. But, elsewhere, there have been several VAR failings, with many complaining about how it is used, especially in English football.

Teams in the English Premier League, for example, still feel some decisions have gone for and against them, rather than the correct decision being made. And this is a problem, as the belief is that VAR should remove any uncertainty and that the result should always be clear.

Another common complaint about VAR is that the whole process takes too long. In the Premier League, if a referee makes a decision, the play can continue while the decision is reviewed, which can then result in the match referee having to go to consult a monitor at the side of the pitch. It leads to long delays in play, and supporters in the stadium and viewers at home, aren’t kept informed on what is happening.

Over time, the hope is that what we see from VAR and decision reviews in English football and other sports where it’s not yet at its optimum is that one-day things will run as smoothly as they do in the sports of North American football, such as the NFL. Of course, it will involve patience and consistent adjustments to find the sweet spot, but they’ll get there.

Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes a learning specialist, designs and delivers learning initiatives (both in-class and online) for a global and internal audience. He is responsible for the ongoing development, delivery, and maintenance of training. He has the ability to manage competing priorities to execute time-sensitive deliverables within a changing environment. He contributes to continually improving the team's processes and standards and works as a member of the team to assist with team initiatives.


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