VAR(Video Assisted Refereeing) has already made a profound impact on the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Russia 2018 has seen the most penalties per game, the highest percentage of goals scored from set-pieces and the fewest number of offsides per match of any World Cup at this stage of the competition since 1966.
So far 10 penalties been given in the Russia World Cup and the all-time record for penalties in a World Cup is 18. The Russia World Cup may see that record broken.
Of the 10 penalties that have been given four were handed after VAR was used. However, there were a few instances where VAR simply did not act. Instances which could have changed the outcome of the match.
Let’s take a look at the times when VAR could have made a difference but did not. So far, the referee has changed his mind on every penalty call and given a spot kick whenever VAR came into play.
The biggest one that is likely be talked about among fans and experts and one that have already caused contention is the goal that Switzerland scored against Brazil.
Replays had shown that Steven Zuber gave a small push to Brazil defender Miranda before he scored with a header to equalize for Switzerland. It is very likely that had it been reviewed, the goal would have been overturned. Brazil FA asked FIFA to explain that decision and also the one involving Gabriel Jesus falling in the penalty area.
Argentina might feel hard done by as VAR did not act when Cristian Pavon was fouled in the penalty area by Iceland’s Birkir Saevarsson. Penalties are subjective and one referee views the game differently from another. But in this case, reviewing the decision could have led to another penalty for Argentina after Lionel Messi had missed the first one.
VAR is used in four match-changing situations: goals, penalty decisions, red cards and cases of mistaken identity.
VAR is being used to review clear and obvious errors. If the ref makes a clear mistake in any of the four situations above, the VAR team will advise the ref to check the call. VAR cannot make any final calls rather it can only advice the referee to consider a decision. Which makes it all the more curious that VAR did not act to stop and ask the referee to reconsider the incidents from the Brazil and Argentina matches.