Soccer’s Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is seemingly here to stay, at least in some parts of the world. CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) has revealed it will use VAR to help refs in numerous 2022 competitions. You can expect the technology in all remaining CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the men’s and women’s U20 Championships and the W Championship.
The organization’s decision was prompted in part by success with VAR in 2021 competitions like the CONCACAF Champions League, Gold Cup and Nations League Finals. The Confederation said progress on VAR had been “considerably” delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now has enough VAR-qualified referees and venues to expand the technology’s use.
VAR still has its critics despite receiving FIFA’s approval for World Cup use in 2018. Enthusiasts are concerned the requests for video reviews can slow down matches, and that the use of centralized review hubs could be used to skew decisions. Soccer already has plenty of drama over tackles and handballs, they argue — VAR just draws out those disputes and takes away from the thrill of the game.
However, the arguments against the system appear to have lost some momentum. VAR helped reverse 17 out of 20 bad calls during the 2018 World Cup, and some backers have contended that video reviews would have overturned other mistakes if they had been used more consistently. Like it or not, tech is more likely to loom in the background of soccer matches than it has before.