VAR technology

What is VAR technology? Impact on FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

The use of VAR technology has jolted the football world; its impact and ramifications can already be seen in the FIFA 2022 Qatar World Cup, prompting the question, “What is VAR technology?” In the last couple of years, it has changed the predictions for a number of high-stakes matches in international tournaments.

By May 2022, about sixty leagues and dozens of domestic cup competitions will use VAR. Among them are the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1, FA Cup, Coppa Italia, Copa del Rey, DFB-Pokal, Major League Soccer, Brasileiro, and Argentine Primera División, among others. 

The current World Cup in Qatar has put VAR technology at the center of every conversation.  We worked hard to learn more about how digital technology is changing football and share what we learned with you.  

The Fundamentals of VAR

VAR is a group of three people who review referee decisions on the field. They have cameras and tools for watching videos and analyzing them to make these reviews accurate. It’s a three-step process that starts with watching what happens during a soccer game, then having the VAR look at what happened, and finally making a better decision about what happened. 

These are the three steps of the process below:


The VAR crew has access to 42 broadcast cameras, eight of which are super slow motion and four are ultra slow motion. They can catch every incident and closely monitor the details. 


When an incident happens, either the referee or the VAR advises reviewing it. The VAR then looks at all of the videos and uses headphones to tell the main referee what he thinks.


The referee can check the video footage at the side of the field before making a call. As an alternative, he can follow the VAR’s recommendation and make the perfect decision.

Semi-automated offside technology

Purpose of using VAR Technology

VAR is now an important piece of technology in football because it lets the referee look back at what happened and change his or her original decision. Most of the time, VAR helps the referees make more accurate decisions throughout the game. 

Only in the cases of “clear and obvious mistakes” or “serious missed incidents” in four situations that can change the outcome of a game: goals, penalty decisions, direct red cards, and mistaken identities match officials can call the VAR. 

Another purpose of using VAR technology is that many people believe it keeps the competition fair for both teams. The crowd’s argument in favor of the technology is that with the use of it, wins are less likely to be due to a mistake by the referee or unfair play. It makes teams’ chances more equal and the referee’s influence less possible. Video footage from numerous perspectives gives a more comprehensive view than the referee’s eyes. VAR monitors all player encounters without the referee’s near presence.

How accurate is VAR?

New research from the University of Bath uses motion capture technology to look at how well video assistant referee technology works in football. The study shows that VAR is helpful for making sure obvious mistakes don’t happen, but it isn’t accurate enough yet to make correct decisions every time.

Before anyone knew what VAR technology is and it came in to use, 82 percent of decisions in matches were right, according to With VAR, this went up to 94% in 2019–2020. The situation is even better in international soccer.

According to a study done by sports scientists at KU Leuven on more than 800 games from more than twenty countries, the total accuracy of refereeing decisions has gone up from 93% to nearly 99.9% in the four categories where VAR is used. 

According to the International Football Association Board, the video assistant referee system is accurate in 98.9% of decisions during its two-year global trial. Though the final decision comes from the referee on the field, the VAR only gives suggestions.

What technology does VAR use?

VAR technology mostly uses video technology to watch games in stadiums and help referees make decisions. The VAR will have two monitors, one from the main-play camera and one with split screens to show the output of other selectable cameras. The team uses radio technology to communicate with the on-field referees. 

VAR also uses AI as one of its components. For example, when an offside is spotted, AI processes all player and ball data in real-time and sends an alert to the VAR. The system then checks that the kick point and offside line are correct before telling the referee, who then makes the final call.

A mobile monitor on the field lets the referee use VAR data to make decisions about the game. The stadium may have huge screens for fans. The most important component of VAR technology is a VOR. It is a video operations room located inside the stadium or any remote place. 

The VAR team is includes a video assistant referee, an assistant video assistant referee (AVAR), and a replay operator (RO). The RO controls all of these tools and systems and reviews any decision made more carefully. Each AVAR, AVAR2, and RO will have the appropriate monitors. A special program on an off-side monitor lets the operator put horizontal and vertical grid lines on the screen at the same time. 

For FIFA World Cup and international matches, the VAR could have three times as many employees and equipment, and a FIFA official will be present. Before a game, the VAR system should go through tests and get certified. FIFA has already established VAR system standards. Confederations, associations, and national leagues have also set their own minimum standards.

VAR technology in soccer

When was VAR first introduced?

The Royal Netherlands Football Association made the VAR, or video assistant referee, a part of the game in 2010. The system was under mock trials during the 2012–13 season of the Eredivisie, the country’s top football league.

The main reason for the increased use of video and AI technology was to protect referees and their decisions. Even though referees make the correct call 95% of the time, the system helps to protect them from the 5% of calls that fans can easily see.

At the Annual General Meeting of the IFAB in March 2016, it introduced a two year long scientific trial of the technology . The International Football Association Board (IFAB) made VAR a part of the Laws of the Game on March 3, 2018. 

In later days, the technology was used in many international sporting events like the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the FIFA Club Football World Cup, the UEFA–CONMEBOL Under-20 Intercontinental Cup, and more.

What is VAR technology in football?

The video assistant referee (VAR) system is a tool that assists referees. The use of video match officials (VMOs) in football started in the 2018/2019 Laws of the Game and was utilized successfully at the 2018 FIFA World CupTM. The team of video assistant referees helps the referee from a video operation room. A fiber-optic network sends all of the host broadcaster camera feeds from the eight stadiums to the VOR. The referee on the field at each stadium talks to the VAR team through a high-tech radio system that is linked by fiber.

When can it be used?

VARs follows a set of guidelines, all of which are mandatory to follow in every game. The team can only help the referee in the case of a “clear and obvious error” or a “serious missed incident” in relation to:

Goal/no goal

During penalty kicks, if the attacking team commits an infraction—the ball goes out of play, the ball enters the net, an offside, a handball, or a foul—they are penalized.

Penalty/no penalty

The attacking team commits an offense, the ball goes out of play, the location of the offense is incorrectly awarded, and the offense is not penalized.

Direct red card 

Denial of a clear goal-scoring opportunity, serious foul play, and aggressive physical behavior (biting, spitting, and offensive, insulting, or abusive language or gestures). Each and every straight red card is subject to reconsideration.

Mistaken identity

The fourth area of application for VAR is any determination in which the center referee commits an identity error. This occurs most frequently when the wrong player receives a yellow or red card from the referee.

The VAR evaluates all four of these types of decisions. If there are no errors, play continues. To the chagrin of the supporters, there may be delays as the VAR evaluates if a clear and obvious error has happened.

When a clear and obvious mistake is found and action needs to be taken, there are three possible outcomes:

  • On the advice of VAR, the ruling may be reversed.
  • On-location review where film is examined
  • The referee disregards VAR counsel
  • The referee then explains his or her decision to the VAR and takes the required action. A VAR cannot overturn the on-field referee’s decision.

How does it work?

Now that you know what iVAR technology is, it’s time to learn how it works. Let’s find out how it helps the field referee during a game.

 What incidents does the VAR check?

Goal/no goal, Penalty or no penalty, a direct red card (not a second yellow card or caution), Mistaken identity (when the referee cautions or sends off the wrong player from the offending team)

What incidents does the VAR not check?

Other than the four incidents mentioned previously, the VAR will not assess other occurrences. It won’t look at things like fouls or handballs in the middle of the field if there hasn’t been a goal or a penalty.

When does VAR get involved in a game?

The VAR gets involved when a referee makes a call. Either the referee tells the VAR to look at a subjective decision, or the VAR finds a “clear and obvious error” in one of the four game-changing situations and tells the referee.

Does VAR check every penalty?

The VAR can tell the referee about anything that is a matter of fact. For example, if the referee gives a penalty kick but the foul happened outside the penalty area, the VAR can tell the referee about this. This is called a factual review.

Can VAR change a yellow card to a red one?

By now It is clear that VAR cannot overturn the referee’s decision. If, for example, the referee fails to show a yellow card (even a second yellow card), VAR cannot interfere unless the yellow card should have been a red card.

VAR decision

VAR’s Impact on the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

The FIFA World Cup is a grand occasion. Every four years, it captivates the entire world’s attention. Even people who don’t normally like soccer might find interest in the mega event.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is also receiving worldwide attention.

The VAR made its debut in its updated form during this World Cup. Players, team officials, gaming legends, and most importantly, fans, believe that it has had a greater impact on the tournament to date.

According to FIFA, the new system provides “a support tool for the video match officials and the on-field officials to help them make faster, more accurate, and more reproducible offside decisions on the biggest stage of all.”

Neymar’s foul during Brazil’s game against Costa Rica was one of the most important things that have been looked at in the box. Giancarlo Gonzalez seemed to have hurt him, so the referee gave him a penalty. However, when the play was looked at again, it was clear that he had lied to the referee. The VAR changed the decision, but he didn’t get any more punishment.

In an Express Co. story, Sam Smith said Argentina appeared to be the victims of a significant VAR error after their embarrassing World Cup loss to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. Messi’s first-half penalty put Argentina ahead, but three more goals were disallowed for offside. According to him, VAR may have made a major error. Lautaro Martinez chipped the Saudi Arabian goalkeeper after breaking through the defense. The assistant referee flagged the forward’s celebrations.

A lengthy VAR check employed semi-automated offside technology. ITV co-commentator Lee Dixon suggested the goal was given. “It’s popped up on our small screens as Onside,” the former Arsenal defender added.

Video Assistant Referees

Does the Referee Call For Var?

Most of the time, the referee will inform the VAR that something needs to be looked at again. In addition to that, the VAR can also tell the referee that he or she should look at it. Since the VAR only gives advice, the referee can decide whether to follow it or not.

The referee must begin VAR reviews, but the VAR and other match officials can recommend them. The referee must make a call on the game to employ VAR.

Can players ask for a decision to be checked by VAR?

According to FIFA, there is at least one additional referee present at the video console who is electronically connected to the center referee and can communicate with him or her. Therefore, it is unnecessary for the players to “request” that the referee utilize the VAR.

As the VAR will automatically “examine” every situation or decision, managers and players are not required to request a “review.” In addition, it is a cautionable (yellow card) offense to ask the referee for a review or use the VAR signal too much.

Can VAR overrule a referee?

The answer is NO. The on field referee decision is final . The VAR mainly provides guidance. If the VAR’s view contradicts that of the on-field referee, the VAR might propose to reverse the judgement. 

The referee can either abide by their initial judgment or proceed to the Referee Review Area—the monitor at the side of the field—for a second look.

Does VAR (Video Assistant Referee) humiliate linesmen and referees in anyways?

VAR is a team of referees equipped with additional technology like video and AI. The aim of using the tech is to help referees be more accurate on the field. Because of VAR, it is possible for a referee to change his mind these days. For example, if a referee decides to give a penalty but the VAR disagrees, he can change the decision. Therefore, VAR is not humiliating for linesmen or referees in any way. 

Who has the final say between the referee and VAR?

According to the IFAB Video Assistant Referee (VAR) protocol, the referee always takes the final decision, either based on information from the VAR or after the referee has undertaken an “on-field review” (OFR).

It clearly states, “The original decision given by the referee will not be changed unless the video review clearly shows that the decision was a clear and obvious error.”

What are the opinions on FIFA VAR technology? 

There are mixed opinions regarding the use of VAR technology among players, officials, and spectators. Only 26% of 33,000 surveyed soccer fans supported the use of this technology.

Lukas Brud, IFAB secretary of the International Football Association (IFAB) said that

–  “Soccer has always been very conservative when it came to the introduction of technology,” 

England’s midfielder Raheem Sterling is among many who believe the games is more exciting using VAR technology. 

“It’s been one of the most entertaining World Cups in a while, especially with VAR,” Sterling said in the YouTube show, Lions’ Den. “It brings a different entertainment.” When there are penalty shouts and the ref makes that VAR  sign, it brings another element. It’s exciting.”

“There is a clear feeling among fans that VAR has ruined the spontaneity of goal celebrations and taken away a big part of our most enjoyable matchday moments,” said the FSA’s vice-chairman, Tom Greatrex. 

Why is it more fun without the VAR?

Most fans believe that football is fun without VAR. As FSA’s vice-chair Tom Greatrex says

“There is a clear feeling among fans that VAR has ruined the spontaneity of goal celebrations, and taken away a big part of our most enjoyable matchday moments,” 

The primary concern of fans, the loss of spontaneity, will always be a component of VAR. Gianni Infantino, president of Fifa, stated earlier this year that it was beneficial for the sport.

Over two-thirds of fans believe that VAR has taken the fun out of Premier League football.

Is VAR good or ruining Football

According to the Premier League website, the number of correct key match decisions went from 82% in the previous season to 94% with the use of VAR. Yet with the advent of VAR, referees may lose confidence in their abilities to officiate matches. There is a risk that they will become overly reliant on VAR, influencing how they make judgments.

The frame-rate and resolution of the cameras utilized in VAR do not always keep up with the fast movements, resulting in fuzzy images of the player or the ball.

VAR errors have a negative impact on teams and spectators by causing unnecessary controversy. The incorrect interpretation of VAR officials can also have an impact on the outcome of a game.

It is a new technology and can be more accurate with time. So, it is not yet appropriate to give a verdict if VAR is perfect for football or if it is ruining the game.

What changes should FIFA consider to make VAR a more effective tool in major events like the World Cup?

There are several ways FIFA can improve VAR to make it a more valuable tool in important football matches. Let’s look at some of the most realistic and easily executable steps.

Directly Speaking To The Fans

For example, making the VAR speak directly to the fans—both in the stadium and on television – to explain why they are doing what they are doing would greatly improve the situation, as would showing situations on large screens.

Providing More Explanation

Referees and VARs are human beings who can make errors. When they do, simply admitting it and apologizing rather than sending the Professional Game Match Officials Board running through the rulebook in an attempt to find some loophole to justify the indefensible can make VAR more acceptable.

Time Limit

Introducing a time restriction could also be an option for making the technology more acceptable. So that players may immediately determine the match’s status and maintain their game plan.

Controversies surrounding VAR use in FIFA World Cup

The new VAR offside system ruled out the first goal scored at the Qatar 2022 World Cup. During the match between Qatar and Ecuador, only one replay was played throughout the globe, which made it impossible to determine whether the goal was disallowed for a foul or for being offside. The official call was “offside,” but it took longer for the explanation to come. When it did, though, it made sense.

When Ecuador’s captain Enner Valencia scored on a tap-in following a frantic free kick inside the penalty area, controversy arose once more. The goal was quickly taken away by the video assistant referee, who said that the player was offside without giving any more details. 

The “offside” call perplexed supporters and immediately raised suspicions of Qatari   despite the fact that initial replays revealed nothing incorrect. Eventually, though, a Hawkeye-like computer-generated 3D replay sought to clarify the situation.

Argentina’s 2-1 loss against Saudi Arabia was compounded by VAR’s shocking blunder. Martinez appeared to be onside before beautifully chipping the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net. 

After a brief review, VAR and the semi-automated offside system disallowed the goal as illegal. New social media images suggest VAR chose the wrong Saudi Arabia player to assess Martinez’s offside. However, the controversial call was wrong, something FIFA doesn’t need right now.

Which team has benefited the most from VAR technology during this Qatar World Cup? 

A total of 64 matches are going to be played in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, of which 18 matches saw results as we were writing the piece “What is VAR technology?” 

It is hard to calculate who has benefited most from VAR technology. Yet we can make some of the decisions more influential than others. In the group match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia, three of the goals that Argentina scored in the first half were ruled out by VAR. Eventually, Saudi scored two goals in the second half and won the match as the least favorite. 

In another game between the Netherlands and Ecuador, defender Angelo Preciado scored a goal in first-half injury time. VAR ruled out the goal because he was on the wrong side of the field. This led to a 1-1 draw. Ecuador can be happier with this draw because after losing early, Gustova Alfaro’s team played a front-foot game that nearly hurt the Netherlands.

In another encounter between Germany and Japan, the VAR disallowed one of Kai Havertz’s first-half goals. Despite having more than 80% of the ball in the first half, Japan won the match 2-1.

Germany missed another chance to score against Spain. In that game, the first goal was scored by Antonio Rudiger for Germany, but it was reviewed and ruled out after 28 seconds. The review was one of the quickest in the game, but it made it clear why the goal wasn’t counted because the player scoring was offside. The match resulted in a draw.

It looked like Vinicius Jr. had scored Brazil’s first goal against Switzerland. His effort, on the other hand, was turned down after a long time. To make things even more confusing, the referee pointed to the center spot for the off-side free kick after a delayed VAR check, which made fans think it was a goal. The Brazil players were happy, but when the referee made a decision, the game went back to a tie.

all VAR decisions

Last Words

Every sport is getting better at using technology. VAR is changing the way of football. Though many fans are not yet happy with its implementation, it has been proven to bring accurate decisions most of the time. This technology, like any other, has room to grow and evolve in order to become more broadly accepted. Football is a global game, and technology can play a vital role to increase its appeal for new generations of fans. 


1. How much does the VAR cost?

VAR can cost differing amounts in football, depending on the level of the game. During the 2018–19 season of the English Premier League, each club spent approximately £1.2 million on technology according to data. But in the lower levels of the game, like the English Football League, the cost is around £50,000 per season.

2. What qualifications does a VAR official need?

VARs must remain calm under pressure and communicate clearly to on-field match officials.  Premier League VARs undergo a two-year training program to sit in the chair. This includes classroom-based VAR Protocol instruction, many on-pitch simulated practices, and extensive live match testing as both a referee and a VAR.

3. How long will a decision take?

As accuracy is more important than speed, there is no time limit on the review process. In 2020, the average time required for each check was around 73 seconds. If the judge didn’t have to go into the booth to make a decision, it took an average of 46 seconds each time.

4. What happens if an incident occurs while another decision is being reviewed?

According to IFAB The VAR automatically “checks” the TV camera footage for every potential or actual goal, penalty, or direct red card decision/incident, or case of mistaken identity, using different camera angles and replay speeds. VAR AI solves the easiest problem first. FIFA says that it “happens in a few seconds” and that this means that decisions about being offside is now more quick and accurate than before.

5. What about incidents not seen by the on-field officials?

VAR can notify on-field officials about important incidents or errors they might have missed. If the referee decides to check it he contacts the team for a review. 

6. Will it be used for all offside decisions?

In the Premier League, the VAR uses Hawk-virtual Eye’s offside line technology to identify offsides. VAR is active in all offside decisions now. 

7. Can VAR reverse a yellow card?

When a goal or penalty changes the game, VAR will look at the play and, if necessary, talk to the referee. But in the end, it’s up to the referee to decide whether or not to take away a yellow card. But if the wrong player gets a yellow card, VAR will also let the ref know.