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After a matter of years, the Premier League has finally given into the appeal of Video Assistant Referees. The additional support will come into play at the beginning of the 18/19 season, meaning this will be our last campaign with man-made decisions.
The first big league to fall for the appeal of VAR was the German, Bundesliga. They introduced it in the 17/18 season and it proved to be a success. So much so that when Summer arrived, FIFA would apply VAR for the first time in the World Cup. Despite the previous connotation regarding the VAR system, it was effective in the World Cup and by the end of the tournament, VAR had been called upon over 450 times. It ended the possibility of offside goals and certainly made the game fairer.
Following the success in Russia, both Serie A and La Liga desired the service of VAR which is becoming more of a necessity in the sport. When it was announced that the Premier League would use VAR, there were mixed emotions from all fans. Of course, it benefits the officials and 99% of the time it will direct the referee to make the correct decision. However, it strips the controversial drama from the game which is a huge talking point for fans, pundits and journalists. For years offside goals, handballs and questionable penalty calls have all added to the entertainment of the most watched league in the world.
One strong supporter of VAR being brought into the Premier League is Southampton striker, Charlie Austin. In his last match, Austin thought he had ended a traitorous goal-drought, only to be unjustly flagged for offside. Southampton would have doubled their one-goal lead against Watford but the goal was ruled out and Watford went onto equalise. Dropping two points can be life or death at the bottom of Premiership and Austin wore no filter when questioned on his disallowed goal. The Englishman insisted that VAR is needed in ‘the best league in the world.’ Football will marginally evolve next season but I’m sure we could all get used to it.