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Here Comes the VAR

According to COPE, La Liga officials have approved the implementation of Video Assistant Referee for next season. 

Leicester City v Club Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

In a major development for the future of officiating within football, several first-division leagues in Europe have begun to adopt Video Assistant Refereeing systems, the most recent adoptee being La Liga. With the Bundesliga, Serie A and Eredivise, among others having also announced plans to implement VAR in the 2017-18 season, La Liga President Javier Tebas and company have followed suit. This major rule change will make for a lot of interest in the first few months of the season to see how the VAR works in top-level league matches.

On numerous occasions in every league season there are contentious decisions that happen where it seems that some sort of replay system could easily have prevented game-altering decisions that were incorrect. If this report is correct, and the system is implemented, the types of decisions that would be reviewed and how it impacts the match will probably take some getting used to.

Antoine Griezmann may have some reservations about VAR, as it costed him a goal against Spain in a 0-2 home loss, but by being able to balance out decisions fairly, it will eventually benefit every club at some stage during the season.

Because so much of football is about the flow of the match, large breaks in play could play a bigger role. More details about the crew operating VAR will come out later, but it is a strong move in favor of more technology in football. In January of 2017, Liga President Javier Tebas said that La Liga would likely wait until FIFA made a decision on VAR in summer of 2018, but it seems other leagues have decided to move the implementation earlier than 2018, though it would still need approval.

It seems strange that despite never implementing goal-line technology, La Liga has decided on VAR, and it remains unclear if VAR can do what goal-line technology can, or if it will also be implemented next season. Either way, it’s a strong move to what will probably become a standard in every top division.