Looking forward to 2017: The sports desk's wishes

Time for football to get with the times

The video assistant referees (VARs) Fifa experimented with last month are meant to ensure fair play. And it should be encouraged.
The video assistant referees (VARs) Fifa experimented with last month are meant to ensure fair play. And it should be encouraged.PHOTO: AFP

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said he is a fan of it while Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane feels it will complicate the game.

But like it or not, the video assistant referees (VARs) Fifa experimented with last month are meant to ensure fair play. And it should be encouraged.

While there may be concerns that the new technology may create confusion or disrupt the flow of play, it should still be implemented. Especially since there are innumerable contentious decisions - red cards, penalties, offsides, whether a ball has crossed the goal-line - every week in the English Premier League and beyond.

Change is imperative. After all, in a digital age, allowing for so much human error only seems to show that football has not progressed with time. Moreover, to stop the game for a couple of minutes is not a major issue and it would probably be the equivalent of a halting for injury.

Tennis has HawkEye, rugby has a video referee, ice hockey has a video goal judge and the National Football League has an instant replay system. Football's time to embrace technology has come.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 01, 2017, with the headline 'Time for football to get with the times'. Print Edition | Subscribe