Vietnamese experts have shown their warm welcome to Video Assistant Referee (VAR), the most talked-about issue of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while making no secrets that it is impossible for Vietnam to adopt its application.
While FIFA hopes VAR will help to ensure a “fairer” tournament, the system - a group of four referees using video technology to assist the main referee officiating the match to have more accurate decisions, has proven divisive among members of the football industry.
During a match, the VARs will work together in an ‘operation room,’ equipped with numerous monitors offering different camera angles, to review certain decisions made by the main referee by watching video replays of the relevant incidents.
Four types of decisions can be reviewed using VAR including goals and violations in the build-up to them, penalties, red cards and mistaken identity in awarding a card.
Helpful but not absolutely helpful
Tran Anh Tu, chairman and general director of the Vietnam Professional Football, the operator of the country’s top- and second-flight football leagues, was able to feel the influence of VAR technology in the World Cup, having watched the tournament’s opener.
“I think it is a good idea to apply modern technology to football so referees can make fewer mistakes,” Tu said.
“Before [VAR], people saw referees’ mistakes as parts of football’s charm. But now, as technology has developed and gives us many approaches to restrict human mistakes, we should welcome [it] and should not be conservative.
“For example, hawk eye technology has long been used in tennis. Now, it is a good thing to have VAR in football,” Tu said.
|Referee Deniz Aytekin consults with VAR before awarding a penalty. Photo: Reuters|
Nguyen Van Mui, head of the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF)'s referee committee, said VAR brings more justice to football, so it is certainly that its adaptation will be continued in many other international tournaments such as the FIFA U-17 World Cup, FIFA U-20 World Cup and FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“But there are also many inadequacies,” said Mui.
“Although it is equipped with a lot of cameras but the footage is not always clear enough in all situations and angles to possibly help referees to correctly pinpoint the situation," he said.
“Whenever the main referee needs the help from VAR, the match has to be halted in 15-20 seconds for him to watch [video replays of] the relevant incidents, affecting the continuity of the games and destroying viewers’ emotions,” he explained.
“Several teams have expressed their disappointment over this issue,” the leader said.
VAR in Vietnam? Impossible
The advancement of VAR also comes at a price.
The application of VAR will require costly investment of cameras and video operation rooms, as well as training costs and wages for technical teams and the video assistant referees, who must be current or former referees, according to Mui.
“I think only the world's leading football countries or world-class tournaments will have sufficient financial and human capacity to apply VAR,” Mui said.
“Countries like Vietnam have neither enough referees nor money to apply this technology, at least for the present,” he asserted.
Concurring Mui’s viewpoint, Tu said it is a long road ahead until Vietnam is able to apply this modern technology to football.
“To use VAR, [a country] must have a lot of technical investment and manpower that Vietnam’s current football is not capable of,” Tu said.
“This technology is very complex so I think even the football federations of developed countries are not able to launch."