English football’s slow embrace of video review technology will continue, with Liverpool set to now play a part in the rollout of video assistant refereeing with their FA Cup tie with West Bromwich Albion on the 27th of the month. It will be just the fourth game in England to deploy the technology.
The first club match to use it was the FA Cup tie between Brighton and Crystal Palace on the ninth of January, a game that relied on VAR just once—to quickly confirm that Brighton’s late winner had, as the referee believed, in fact been bundled over the goal line via chest and not arm.
It has been more widely implemented in Germany, Italy, and Portugal, with all three countries deploying VAR in their top leagues this season to mixed reviews. In Germany in particular there has been a feeling that VAR is slowing games down without much impacting the quality of officiating.
While that is an obvious concern, one advantage in embracing review technology at a slightly slower pace than their counterparts should be an opportunity to learn from any mistakes, and in addition to the three European leagues there is now VAR in MLS, the A-League, and at the last FIFA Confederations Cup.
There’s plenty of experience with VAR in the wider game, then, to draw on in England in order to hopefully get it right and improve officiating—with goals, penalties, red card incidents, and cases of mistaken identity all fair play for VAR review—without significantly impacting the flow of matches.