Technology transformed soccer in a historic way after the emergence of the Video Assistant Referee. The famous VAR system was created to help in the decision making process of referees, when a very difficult or obvious play had to be judged. VAR is a consequence of human nature, because referees simply cannot be perfect when officiating a match. They can make mistakes and determine the outcome of huge tournaments such as the World Cup. That's why assistant referees and technology came to help.

Through every possible camera angle, a group of appointed referees check the plays in a video operation room and immediately communicate of a possible reviewable situation to the match referee. In practical terms, a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is a qualified person (referee) who sees the match through a different number of screens and slow-motion replays, allowing them to advise the on-field referee.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) and FIFA have been very clear by stating that VAR can only be used in situations of clear and obvious errors. In fact, referees are instructed to apply reviews especifically in this four scenarios: penalty, goals, red-card incidents and mistaken identity (wrong player gets a card). Only in these situations may the VAR intervene. 

When was the first World Cup with VAR?

FIFA found a lot of rejection for VAR, especially from people with a 'traditionalist' point of view. For them, human nature is part of the game and, as a consequence, the referee's mistakes are part of it too. Nevertheless, considering the rising percentage of bad decisions on the pitch, tecnhology had to help. 

In 2016, the trials started all over the world and probably the biggest test came during the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup at Russia. That tournament was crucial for 'try and error', even though thousands of fans criticized how long the reviews were. With more and more experiments, that time was reduced in most cases and the Video Assistant Referee was ready to be official. 

On March of 2018, after many trails in different competitions, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) included VAR in the Laws of the Game (rule book). So, three months later, Russia 2018 was the first World Cup in which VAR was used.