What Changed To Make England More Successful In This World Cup?
The pride surrounding the England team is unmissable. It’s been since 1966 when the Three Lions last roared as one for the football loving country when the men’s national soccer team won the World Cup final which so happens to be the year I was born. Give the hungry English lads credit getting through to the semi-finals through a combination of strong players that mostly play in the Premier League, inspirational and youthful management and… the use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) sports tech ensuring accuracy in decisions and fair rulings? Only now in 2018 has VAR been in place at the World Cup in Russia to the credit of FIFA but long, long overdue. So what if VAR had been around for a few decades during some of Team England’s better tournament runs. Might this sports tech system have made a difference for the Three Lions squad back then as it is doing now in Russia for all participating nations. The Sports Techie community blog has well documented our position of support regarding the use of instant replay to assist officials, refs and umpires with reviewing calls as a truly must have system for use in professional and major college sports.
God Save The Queen and VAR
While fans are heartbroken today, England earned a semifinal berth, signifying the furthest they have gone in the World Cup for almost three decades. But it turns out Team England supporters are still understandably heartbroken about missing out on World Cup glory in previous years too. Betway’s research reveals that 1 in 5 (21%) of Brits think England would have won another World Cup if VAR had been introduced earlier due to controversial referee decisions.
VAR is helping past controversies to be eliminated from the game, controversies that include; the unforgettable ‘Hand Of God’ moment by Diego Maradona for Argentina back in 1988 and the unfortunate incident of the England v Netherlands game in 1994, in which David Platt raced through on goal, only to be brought down by Netherland’s captain Ronald Koeman on the edge of the box. Koeman received a yellow card, whereas use of VAR may have led to a red card, seeing England play the game against 10 men and potentially qualifying.
With England’s success in this competition, and for future hopes, we can rest assure that should a controversy arise – VAR will help to ensure the correct ruling is put in place as long as the human or humans interrupting video replays are good at their jobs. Although England wasn’t so lucky in the past minus VAR.
Betway have created a series of posters depicting VAR alternatives to those all-important England World Cup moments which stunted their progress in history: https://blog.betway.com/football/world-cup/englands-world-cup-history-could-have-been-var-y-different/
Betway Reveal England’s Thoughts On VAR
- 1 in 5 (21%) of Brits think England would have won another World Cup if VAR had been introduced earlier due to controversial referee decisions.
- 97% of Brits disagree with the referee’s decision during the World Cup.
- However, 79% said they didn’t fancy stepping in to referee at the Russia World Cup saying it was too hard work.
- 17% / 1 in 5 British football fans don’t agree with the use of VAR during the World Cup for fear of it ruining the beautiful game.
- 15% don’t think England will benefit from VAR being used during the World Cup.
- 39% of Brits are only willing to wait 30 seconds to a minute for a VAR decisions during the World Cup.
- 69% of Brits think technology like VAR is helping to improve accuracy in football.
- However, only 24% Brits know what VAR analysis during a game is, with 76% in the dark.
- 53% of Brits think that retrospective red cards will improve player discipline in the World Cup.
Sports Techie, England has had their share of VAR or lack of VAR misery and their fans are affected. I truly understand.
Looking at the VAR data provided by Betway, 76% of English fans that root on the national team are in the dark about VAR analysis. That number has to be around 25% after this World Cup, imo. About the one in five that did not want VAR at the World Cup, only time and death will eventually take down these ‘old schoolers’ but until then, that number probably won’t budge much from 17%. Taking 30 seconds or less for a VAR review is a joke. Fans that want this obviously don’t pay attention to all the fake injuries and time wasted on flopping. It’s not even close which is the biggest time waster and which is more important to the game between VAR and fake injuries.
To me, the other glaring VAR issue besides what human is watching video replay is when to use VAR. Here in Atlanta, talk radio dj’s and callers are really negative about VAR use during United FC matches because it was or was not used, at the right. or wrong time. When you win, these kinds of conversations stop, they only happen when a team loses.
VAR – The System Explained
My response to those opposed to VAR is simple. First, I understand there will be decision-makers and fans that are tech-phobic and/or naysayers. As well, the human factor of VAR interpretation is a continuing work in progress. Expect forthcoming tweaks to the systems for both FIFA and the MLS in addition to other professional leagues that currently have VAR in place like Bundesliga, Serie A and the Primeria Liga.
The Premier League voted to not use it for the 2019 season. After watching the success of VAR during the recent World Cup, you might want to have an emergency re-vote of EPL voters because not using it smells of a decision made by the job security driven old guard.
At the FIFA media referee conference group stage ended, VAR helped to improve the accuracy of match changing decisions by referees from 95% to 99.3%. Through the WC group stage, 335 incidents were reviewed checked by the VAR system.
“We have always said that VAR doesn’t mean perfection – there could still be the wrong interpretation or a mistake – but I think you would agree that 99.3% is very close to perfection,” said Chairman of the FIFA Referees’ Committee Pierluigi Collina.
Most the issues I saw at this World Cup with VAR are fixable but not all. Preferred treatment is something the NBA still goes through with their superstars and its truly unavoidable it seems expect for the very best of officials which of course, there are not enough of. With VAR in place, I felt the world’s top football teams and superstar players got the benefit of the doubt from the centralized replay center in Moscow more often than not. On the flip side, smaller countries like Croatia, a World Cup finalist this year versus France on Sunday and a nation of only 4 million fans, usually gets the other end of the stick on VAR.
Meaning, as the knockout stage continued, Moscow lost more and more courage to overturn or demand the official on the pitch to see the replays. Officials also seemed to not want to go underneath the hood to see video evidence as the pressure mounted in the elimination stages.I found tremendous fault in these decisions to not review under the hood by the on-fields ref. If the play is close, go look at the replay to make sure you are seeing on tape what your brain thought it saw.
Neymar gets fouled more than any other player on the planet yet the fact that he flops worked against him and Brazil during this World Cup. I would argue that the ref who decided to not use VAR just because it was Neymar should be disciplined and marked down in the FIFA officials rating system. The Fox Soccer announcers were often in dispute with the lack of VAR changes by Moscow and especially by the decisions from the official on the field to not look at the play.
The lack of VAR use at some of England’s biggest games over the past 30 years alone should help influence your no-brainer decision, Premier League owners. Add in FIFA’s success implementing VAR at the World Cup in Russia and the argument against it shrinks to merely ego. Next year’s EPL champion, the winner of the next Champions League trophy and World Cup 2022 for England might all depend on it.
Just to be fair, the list of nations with a gripe because of the lack of VAR in games of past is equally as impressive as laid out by The New Yorker.
How V.A.R. Would Have Changed the World Cup’s Greatest Plays | The New Yorker
Bottom line, the game of soccer while as simple as it is. can be rather complicated to officiate making VAR and the expanding third team here to stay, right England!
Let’s hope VAR proves worthy for France and Croatia in the World Cup final game, I expect it to do just that.
See ya later sportstechie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!
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