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VAR Proving A Success in La Liga
14 September 2018, 09:14
VAR Proving A Success in La Liga

There was great uproar when FIFA announced Video Assistant Referee technology would be used in the 2018 World Cup.  However, it turned out to be a major success and while there were still some questionable decisions, it helped to make the correct decision more often than not.

In addition, VAR seemed to add an extra element of excitement to some of the matches, with fans waiting in anticipation to see the final decision, both inside the stadium and on television.  It also gave fans the opportunity to make their own calls on incidents as they were replayed.

Despite the Premier League’s refusal to embrace the technology this season, VAR has been introduced to the Spanish La Liga.

Prior to the international break, VAR was used in all 29 matches played in the Spanish top flight, with one match being postponed due to stadium safety concerns.  In total, there have been 364 key incidents reviewed using the VAR system in La Liga, at an average of 12.55 reviews per game.

That does not mean the referee has been across to his monitor at least 12 times per game this season.  It means the Video Assistant Referee has looked at incidents an average of 12.55 times per match but only three of the 364 incidents have resulted in the pitch referee referring to his monitor.

A total of seven incidents have been recommended for review and ten referee decisions have been changed through use of VAR. Seven goals have been over-turned, including five offside decisions.

So, in just 29 matches in the La Liga this season, we have seen ten refereeing decisions which would have stood last season, changed this season. We have seen the fewest red cards shown at this stage of the season since the 1991/92 season.  This suggests VAR is helping to keep players under control and is making for a fairer game of football.

However, while the facts suggest VAR is helping La Liga in terms of making the correct decisions and keeping more players on the pitch, not everyone in Spain is happy.  While many onlookers were concerned with the breaks in play because of VAR, one man was furious when VAR did not intervene.

Sevilla manager Pablo Machin complained his player was fouled before getting sent off and his team should have been awarded a penalty.  It was a big decision but VAR did not come to his rescue.

Luis Suarez’s goal in Barcelona’s win over Huesca was ruled offside by the linesman only for VAR to later award the goal.  Despite benefitting for the technology, Suarez complained he did not enjoy scoring the goal as he could not celebrate due to the fact it was initially given offside.

In addition, losing the feeling and celebration of scoring goal is a concern as players become wary of celebrating a goal for fear it will be given offside.

VAR is in the early stages of introduction in Spain but so far but the statistics do not lie and it has been successful. There will always be decisions which players, managers and fans think are wrong, regardless of the technology.  However, the early signs are La Liga has become fairer as a result of VAR and that can only be a good thing for the game.

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OVERALL TABLE PTS GP W D L GF GA +/-
1. FC Barcelona 12 4 4 0 0 14 3 11
2. Real Madrid 10 4 3 1 0 11 3 8
3. Real Sociedad 7 5 2 1 2 7 7 0
4. Deportivo Alavés 7 4 2 1 1 3 4 -1
5. Girona FC 7 4 2 1 1 5 6 -1
6. Getafe CF 7 4 2 1 1 4 2 2
7. RCD Espanyol 7 4 2 1 1 5 3 2
8. Celta de Vigo 7 4 2 1 1 7 5 2
9. Athletic Bilbao 5 3 1 2 0 5 4 1
10. Atlético Madrid 5 4 1 2 1 3 4 -1
11. Real Betis 5 4 1 2 1 1 3 -2
12. Villarreal CF 4 4 1 1 2 2 3 -1
13. Sevilla FC 4 4 1 1 2 4 4 0
14. SD Huesca 4 5 1 1 3 6 13 -7
15. SD Eibar 4 4 1 1 2 4 6 -2
16. Levante UD 4 4 1 1 2 6 5 1
17. Valencia CF 3 4 0 3 1 3 5 -2
18. Rayo Vallecano 3 3 1 0 2 2 5 -3
19. Real Valladolid 2 4 0 2 2 0 2 -2
20. CD Leganes 1 4 0 1 3 4 9 -5

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