VAR is not accurate enough to accurately determine offside position in football, study claims

Nearly three years after its introduction into Premier Leaguethe video assistant referee (VAR) continues to share the views of football fans.

Modern video technology has earned praise from some, but has also experienced many disasters along the way, and the debate about its effectiveness and whether it slows down game speed still rages on.

Now, a new study has surfaced, and it’s not exactly a resounding endorsement.

The researchers suggest that VAR is currently not accurate enough to give accurate offside decisions in football, due in part to the way people observe the data.

Dr. Puya Soltani, who led the study, said: “While VAR is useful for identifying obvious errors, it should not be completely relied upon in making judges’ decisions.”

The study will be music to the ears of Match of the Day experts Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer, who questioned the technology’s effectiveness after several controversial decisions.

Nearly three years after VAR’s introduction to the Premier League, football fans are still divided. A new study suggests that the technology is currently not accurate enough to make accurate offside decisions in football, due in part to the way people observe the data.

The experts conducted an experiment (pictured) and found that the average person watching the broadcast thought the ball was hit 132 milliseconds later than it actually was.

The experts conducted an experiment (pictured) and found that the average person watching the broadcast thought the ball was hit 132 milliseconds later than it actually was.

That's enough to put players in a different spot, and therefore could potentially change the outcome of offside, according to researchers at the University of Bath.

That’s enough to put players in a different spot, and therefore could potentially change the outcome of offside, according to researchers at the University of Bath.

WHAT IS VAR?

The Video Assistant Referee is a system that involves several highly trained match officials who have access to various camera angles and playback speeds.

A small team of qualified referees watch the game from outside the field, safely hidden in the room, vigilantly watching every moment of the game.

They communicate with the referee on the playing field using a two-way radio.

The referee must consult with the VAR – only after that the process of analyzing the incident begins.

VAR can’t just view whatever they want during a match.

The referee draws the outline of the TV screen in the air so everyone knows what is going on and that the VAR is set to be used.

When viewing on the field (OFR), the referee also leaves the field to view replays on the side monitor.

VAR was introduced in the Premier League in 2019 to check for “clear and obvious errors” in four game-changing incidents: goals, penalties, direct red cards and mistaken identification.

The technology uses video footage from cameras installed on the field, which means that VAR operators can observe what is happening from different angles, and then offer their judgments about incidents to the main referee for a final decision.

Critics of VAR also claim that it hinders the flow of the game, however some studies show that it has reduced the number of fouls, offsides and yellow cards.

In a new study, researchers at the University of Bath’s Center for Motion Analysis, Entertainment Research and Applications used optical motion capture systems to evaluate the accuracy of VAR systems.

Dr. Soltani filmed a football player receiving the ball from a teammate from multiple camera angles while recording the 3D position of the ball and players using optical motion capture cameras.

The participants watching the clips were then asked to determine the exact moment of the kick and assess whether the ball receiver was in an offside position.

The study found that, on average, participants thought the ball was hit 132 milliseconds later than it actually was, as measured by optical motion cameras.

Participants were also found to be more accurate in their judgments when the action was viewed from 0 and 90° angles and when VAR guide lines were present.

Modern video technology has earned praise from some, but has also experienced many disasters along the way, and the debate about its effectiveness and whether it slows down game speed still rages on.

Modern video technology has earned praise from some, but has also experienced many disasters along the way, and the debate about its effectiveness and whether it slows down game speed still rages on.

The study will be music to Match of the Day experts Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer, who questioned the technology's effectiveness after several controversial decisions.

The study will be music to Match of the Day experts Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer, who questioned the technology’s effectiveness after several controversial decisions.

Dr. Soltani said: “VAR does help judges make accurate decisions, but this study showed that it has certain limitations.

“The frame rate and resolution of the cameras used in VAR sometimes cannot keep up with fast movements, meaning that sometimes the player or the ball is blurry.

“So the spectator has to use their own judgment to extrapolate where the players were at the moment the ball was kicked, which affects whether they are offside or not.”

“My research showed that the ball was hit 132 milliseconds earlier than the participants perceived it, which doesn’t sound like much, but in a fast-paced game, this time can be enough for the players to be in a different place, and therefore potentially can change the outcome of an offside position.”

The study suggests that for marginal offside decisions, thicker guide lines in VAR can be used to indicate an area of ​​uncertainty.

According to the researchers, accuracy can also be improved by looking at the gameplay from different angles.

Dr. Soltani added: “Using higher resolution cameras, higher frame rates and volumetric motion capture techniques will improve VAR accuracy but will be much more expensive.

“Whether it’s right or wrong, I think the referee’s final decision adds a twist to the game.”

He presented his findings at the 40th Conference of the International Society for Biomechanics in Sports.

ARE YOU SERIOUSLY? WATCHING SOCCER FOOLS IN SLOW MOTION HELPS REFEREES MAKE BETTER DECISIONS BUT DOES NOT INCREASE THEIR LIKELIHOOD TO SEE GAME BREAKING

A 2021 report states that slow-motion VAR replays during football matches do not affect referee decisions, making incidents more deliberate.

Psychologists say slow motion actually helps referees better distinguish between yellow and red cards during football matches.

The controversial VAR or “video assistant referee” system has been a constant topic of discussion in the UK since its introduction in the Premier League in August 2019.

But by recruiting a sample of real professional football officials, the researchers argued that they had strong evidence that VAR actually helped make the right decision.

Read more: Study finds that watching football fouls in slow motion doesn’t affect the referee’s decision