The 2018 World Cup and the potential pitfalls of VAR

The 2018 World Cup is getting closer, promising to be an historic footballing occasion. This year’s tournament is the first World Cup in which the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will be used.

Due to previous World Cup injustices, including Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal that clearly crossed the line in England’s 2010 World Cup tie against Germany, Geoff Hurst’s dubious goal in the 1966 World Cup Final that was awarded by a Russian linesman, and, most famously, Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal in the 1986 Quarter Final, pressure has been mounting for referees to use technology to help avoid such errors occurring.

VAR was used at the Confederations Cup in 2017, with FIFA’s president Gianni Infantino praising the system, saying he was “extremely happy with VAR.”

Despite VAR being an effective way to rule out disputes and uncertainties regarding decisions related to goals, penalties, direct red cards and cases of mistaken identity, using the VAR system in occasions like the World Cup, does have potential drawbacks.

Having to break from the game for the referee to view a video of an indecisive incident will of course delay play, which could negatively interrupt the course of play. Another potential negative impact of VAR could be players putting pressure on referees to view video footage and rely on VAR to make decisions.

Whether VAR proves to be a godsend in this year’s World Cup remains to be seen. What is more important is that football clubs and other sport and leisure facilities are adequately insured so that if accidents occur on or off the football pitch, a club has the right cover in place for injuries to players and damage to facilities.

Nelson Policies at Lloyd’s Sports and Leisure division provides tailored products for football clubs and other semi-professional and amateur sports clubs.

To find out more about our Sports and Leisure insurance products, get in touch with Nelson Policies at Lloyd’s friendly team of Sport & Leisure insurance experts.

Nelson Sport & Leisure

Tel: 0203 058 2495


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