What’s the verdict on VAR at the World Cup after group stages?

What’s the verdict of VAR after the group stages of the World Cup?

The technology has been used at the tournament for the first time and it has been under the spotlight after being called on for a number of important decisions.

Perhaps the most controversial decision made after the use of VAR was to award Iran a penalty for handball in their 1-1 draw with Portugal in the group stage.

There have also been complaints VAR has sometimes not been called on to review decisions such as holding in the area – on Harry Kane and Aleksandar Mitrovic for example.

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However, speaking on the World Cup Supplement podcast, The Times’ journalist Matt Dickinson said he thinks the technology is working.

“It annoys me that still some people made kneejerk reactions about it,” he said. “There are people still trying to understand it, which I understand, but I think the biggest concern was the delays and I don’t think that has happened.

“People say it would take the passion out of the game but I haven’t seen a lack of passion. I am not saying it has been perfect – it never was going to be – and I’m not saying it is going to right all the wrongs – it never could – but compared to what people feared, I see that it is working.”

Dickinson also said the problem with the penalty for Iran against Portugal was not VAR, but rather the referee, who watched the incident and decided to point to the spot.

“I thought the referee had a bad night and that wasn’t a VAR mistake, it was a flustered referee making a poor decision under pressure,” he said.

“In the other game that night between Spain and Morocco there was a goal given to Spain that was initially wrongly flagged for offside. We looked at about 15 or 16 decisions that have had direct intervention by VAR, one was questionable, the rest have righted wrongs.

“Neymar thought he had won a penalty when he threw himself to the ground and that was corrected. We have seen instances where justices have been done and we haven’t seen the big delays that people have feared. We have seen stuff like grappling, which started out as a real problem, now referees are getting on top of it knowing they have the technology to back them.”

The Guardian’s Dominic Fifield thinks one issue that needs to be looked at is handballs.

“I think we might need to reassess the handball rule because when you see a lot of the handball replays slowed down they look a lot more blatant when perhaps they are not,” he said.

“That’s something football will have to adjust to and work out how it is going to cope with VAR. We are seeing soft penalties given for handball.”

What do you think about VAR at the World Cup so far?

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