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Perspective of Elite Athletes of the Influence of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) on the Development of Sport: Football Athletes as Case Study


This study was on perspective of elite athletes of the influence of var on the development of sport: football athletes as case study. Four objectives were raised which included: To Examine Elite Football Athletes’ Perceptions of VAR Implementation, to Assess the Impact of VAR on the Performance and Strategies of Elite Football Athletes, to Explore the Attitudes of Elite Football Athletes Towards the Use of VAR in Match Officiation and to Identify Any Challenges or Benefits Perceived by Elite Football Athletes in Relation to VAR.  The total population for the study is 75 workers at ministry of sports. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies




Background to the study

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in football is emblematic of the sport’s commitment to leveraging technology to enhance officiating accuracy. The initial discussions about incorporating technology into football officiation gained momentum as the sport grappled with instances of contentious decisions that had significant impacts on match outcomes. The need for a more robust and reliable officiating system became apparent, prompting football’s governing bodies to explore technological interventions.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB), as the guardian of the Laws of the Game, played a pivotal role in formalizing the use of VAR. IFAB, in collaboration with football’s major governing bodies, established a framework to guide the implementation of VAR across different competitions. The formalization process involved extensive consultation, testing, and adjustments to ensure that VAR adhered to the core principles of fairness, accuracy, and minimal interference with the game.

Football, as one of the world’s most beloved sports, continually undergoes transformative changes driven by technological advancements. Among these innovations, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system has emerged as a pivotal development, altering the landscape of football officiating and gameplay. VAR is designed to assist on-field referees in making more accurate decisions by reviewing crucial moments during a match, such as goals, penalties, and red card incidents. The implementation of VAR has sparked widespread debates, and its impact on the sport’s essence and dynamics, especially from the perspective of elite athletes, remains a subject of paramount interest.

The surge in VAR-related controversies and discussions necessitates a thorough examination of its influence on elite athletes. Football, beyond being a sport, is a cultural phenomenon that deeply resonates with millions of fans globally. The decisions made through VAR not only impact match outcomes but also contribute to shaping the narrative and perception of the game. Understanding the experiences and perspectives of elite football athletes in this technological era is crucial for comprehending the ways in which VAR intersects with the development of football as a whole.

The integration of technology in sports, commonly referred to as sports technology, has become a defining feature of the contemporary athletic landscape. As VAR epitomizes this technological wave in football, exploring its implications becomes imperative. This study aims to contribute to the growing body of knowledge surrounding the intersection of sports and technology by delving into the lived experiences and viewpoints of elite football athletes regarding VAR.

This research posits that understanding how elite football athletes perceive and adapt to the influence of VAR is essential for evaluating the broader impact of technological interventions on the sport. By investigating the intricate dynamics between athletes and VAR, this study aim to uncover insights that not only enhance ones’ understanding of the sport but also inform future developments in football technology.

The subsequent chapters of this research endeavor will unfold systematically, delving deeper into various facets of the influence of VAR on elite football athletes.

Statement of Problems

In contemporary football, the norm has shifted with the introduction and widespread implementation of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system. While VAR was intended to enhance officiating accuracy and fairness, its integration into the sport has generated a series of complex issues that necessitate thorough investigation.

One of the primary issues associated with the implementation of VAR in football is the presence of ambiguities in its interpretation. The system’s intervention in critical match situations often leads to diverse interpretations, creating confusion among players, fans, and even referees. Elite football athletes, at the forefront of the game, may grapple with the challenge of adapting to a system that introduces subjective elements into the decision-making process.

The introduction of VAR has raised concerns about its impact on the natural flow of football matches. The intermittent pauses for VAR reviews may disrupt the rhythm and intensity of the game, potentially affecting the performance and mindset of elite athletes. Understanding how these disruptions manifest and influence athletes’ perceptions is crucial for assessing the holistic impact of VAR on the footballing experience.

The psychological toll on elite football athletes stemming from VAR-related decisions is a pertinent concern. Instances of goals being disallowed or awarded, penalties being given or overturned, can elicit a range of emotional responses. These psychological factors may extend beyond the duration of a single match, impacting an athlete’s confidence, motivation, and overall mental well-being. Investigating these is essential for developing strategies to support athletes in adapting to the evolving officiating landscape.

The strategic dimension of football is intricately linked to VAR decisions. Coaches and players strategically approach matches based on an understanding of how VAR may influence key moments. Elite football athletes may face challenges in adjusting their playing styles, defensive strategies, and decision-making processes to align with the VAR. This study seeks to uncover the specific ways in which VAR shapes the strategic approaches of elite football athletes.

Questions regarding the fairness and integrity of football competitions have emerged with VAR implementation. Athletes may express concerns about the consistency of VAR decisions and their impact on the integrity of the game. Investigating these concerns is paramount for evaluating the long-term implications of VAR on the perception of football as a fair and competitive sport.

The transparency of VAR decisions and the accountability of officiating bodies are critical aspects that demand scrutiny. Elite football athletes, as key stakeholders, may question the transparency of the VAR process and the accountability of those responsible for its implementation. Understanding the perspectives of athletes in this regard contributes to the ongoing discourse on refining the VAR system for the benefit of all involved parties.

Football governing bodies and stakeholders have made concerted attempts to address the challenges posed by VAR. These attempts include:

Ongoing refinements to VAR protocols aim to address issues related to interpretation, game flow disruptions, and the overall effectiveness of the system.

Efforts have been made to enhance communication between match officials, VAR teams, and the audience, aiming to provide transparency and clarity in decision-making.

Adjustments to existing football rules and VAR implementation guidelines have been proposed and implemented to mitigate the identified challenges. The effectiveness of these attempts remains a critical question. Evaluating whether these interventions have successfully addressed the identified issues and mitigated the consequences is essential for understanding the current state of VAR in football.

In essence, the statement of the problem underscores the multifaceted challenges emanating from VAR, their consequences on various stakeholders, and the ongoing attempts to remedy these issues within the evolving landscape of football officiation.

Research Questions

To guide the study, the following research question were

  1. How do elite football athletes perceive the introduction of VAR in football matches?
  2. In what ways has VAR influenced the performance and strategies of elite football athletes?
  3. What are the attitudes of elite football athletes towards the use of VAR in match officiation?
  4. What challenges and benefits are perceived by elite football athletes in relation to VAR?

Purpose of the Study

The overarching aim of this research is to critically analyze the perspective of elite football athletes regarding the influence of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology on the development of the sport. This comprehensive investigation seeks to delve into the experiences of elite athletes in the context of VAR implementation, aiming to contribute valuable insights to the broader understanding of the evolving relationship between technology and football.

1 To Examine Elite Football Athletes’ Perceptions of VAR Implementation

2 To Assess the Impact of VAR on the Performance and Strategies of Elite Football Athletes

3 To Explore the Attitudes of Elite Football Athletes Towards the Use of VAR in Match Officiation

4 To Identify Any Challenges or Benefits Perceived by Elite Football Athletes in Relation to VAR

Research Hypotheses

H1 (Null): Elite football athletes do not perceive VAR as having a significant impact on the fairness and accuracy of match officiation.

H2 (Null): VAR implementation has not led to tactical adjustments among elite football athletes to optimize performance outcomes.

H3 (Null): The attitudes of elite football athletes towards VAR are not correlated with their overall satisfaction with match officiation.

H4 (Null): Elite football athletes do not perceive any significant challenges or benefits in relation to VAR, and these perceptions do not vary based on individual experiences and positions on the field.

Significance of the Study

This research holds significance in advancing the field of sports science by providing an understanding of the impact of technology, specifically VAR, on elite football athletes. Insights derived from this study contribute to the broader discourse on how technological interventions influence athlete performance, psychology, and the overall development of sports.

Understanding elite football athletes’ perspectives on VAR is crucial for developing effective athlete support systems. The study’s findings can guide sports psychologists, coaches, and support staff in tailoring strategies to help athletes navigate the psychological challenges associated with VAR-related decisions, ultimately enhancing their mental resilience and well-being.

The research contributes to the improvement of officiating policies in football. By exploring athletes’ attitudes towards VAR, the study informs football governing bodies and officiating committees about the perceived fairness, transparency, and effectiveness of VAR. This information is valuable for refining VAR protocols and ensuring that officiating decisions align with the expectations of elite athletes.

As football continues to evolve, the study’s findings can guide the integration of future technologies into the sport. By understanding how elite football athletes perceive and adapt to VAR, stakeholders in the footballing community can make informed decisions when considering the implementation of new technologies, ensuring that they align with the values and expectations of those directly involved in the game.

The study contributes to the broader narrative surrounding VAR and its impact on football. Insights into athletes’ perspectives can help bridge the gap between fans and players, fostering a more informed and empathetic fan base. Additionally, by addressing concerns raised by elite athletes, the study may contribute to a more positive and constructive discourse among football enthusiasts.

This research adds to the academic body of knowledge by providing in-depth insights into the intersection of technology and sports, particularly within the context of elite football. The study’s findings contribute to sports sociology, psychology, and management literature, enriching academic discussions and inspiring further research in related areas.

Scope and Determination of the Study

This research focuses on elite football athletes and their experiences with VAR, primarily within select football leagues and tournaments. The geographical scope encompasses major footballing regions where VAR has been implemented, allowing for a diverse representation of athletes’ perspectives. Specific leagues or tournaments, such as the English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, UEFA Champions League, and FIFA World Cup, may be included in the study.

The study’s temporal scope spans from the initial implementation of VAR in football up to the present date. By examining the evolution of VAR over this period, the research aims to capture the dynamic nature of athletes’ experiences and perceptions as they adapt to changes in officiating protocols.

The primary participants in this study are elite football athletes actively competing in leagues and tournaments where VAR is in operation. Athletes from various playing positions, such as forwards, midfielders, defenders, and goalkeepers, will be considered to provide a comprehensive understanding of how VAR impacts players across different roles on the field.

The study employs a mixed-methods approach, combining qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. Qualitative data will be gathered through in-depth interviews with elite football athletes, allowing for a rich exploration of their experiences and perspectives. Additionally, quantitative data will be collected through surveys to capture broader trends and patterns in athletes’ attitudes towards VAR.

The key variables under investigation include athletes’ perceptions of VAR, the impact of VAR on performance and strategies, attitudes towards VAR in match officiating, and the identification of challenges and benefits associated with VAR. These variables will be analyzed to draw comprehensive insights into the multifaceted influence of VAR on elite football athletes.

In essence, the scope of this study encompasses elite football athletes participating in major football leagues and tournaments where VAR is implemented. The research employs a mixed-methods approach to gather comprehensive insights into athletes’ experiences and perspectives regarding the impact of VAR on the development of football.

Limitations of the Study

One potential limitation is the inherent bias that may arise from participants’ perceptions of VAR. Elite football athletes may be influenced by personal experiences, team dynamics, or specific match outcomes, leading to a degree of subjectivity in their responses.

The willingness of elite football athletes to disclose their true sentiments about VAR may vary. Some athletes may be more candid in expressing their views, while others may be reserved due to factors such as contractual obligations, team dynamics, or fear of repercussions.

Football is a dynamic sport with evolving rules, technologies, and competitive landscapes. The study’s findings may be influenced by unforeseen changes in officiating protocols, technological advancements, or other external factors that could occur during or after the research period. Recognizing this dynamic nature, the study’s conclusions will be contextualized within the timeframe of data collection.

The study’s findings may not be fully generalizable to all elite football athletes globally, as experiences with VAR can vary across leagues, countries, and cultures. The research acknowledges that the perspectives of athletes in one league may not perfectly represent the experiences of athletes in another. However, efforts will be made to select diverse leagues and tournaments to enhance the study’s applicability.

The level of technology adoption and familiarity with VAR may differ among athletes, depending on the leagues or teams they are associated with. Athletes from leagues with more extensive VAR implementation may have different perspectives than those with limited exposure. This potential variation will be considered in the analysis of the study’s findings.

While the primary focus is on elite football athletes, the study does not extensively explore the perspectives of referees, coaches, or fans. This limitation stems from the need to maintain a focused inquiry. Future research may consider investigating these additional stakeholders to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the broader footballing ecosystem.

External events, such as major tournaments, rule changes, or controversies related to VAR, may impact athletes’ perceptions during the study. The study acknowledges that these external factors could introduce unforeseen variables that may influence athletes’ responses and attitudes.

Resource constraints, including time and access to athletes, may limit the depth and breadth of the study. Despite these constraints, the research will strive to provide a comprehensive understanding of elite football athletes’ perspectives on VAR within the available resources.

By acknowledging these limitations, the study aims to provide a transparent and contextually informed interpretation of its findings. These limitations will be considered in the analysis and discussion, ensuring an understanding of the research outcomes.



  •  International Football Association Board (IFAB). (2017). The Laws of the Game 2017/2018. Retrieved from https://www.fifa.com/mm/document/footballdevelopment/refereeing/02/90/15/02/lawsofthegame2017-2018en_neutral.pdf
  •  International Football Association Board (IFAB). (2022). VAR – Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from https://www.theifab.com/laws/frequently-asked-questions-var
  •  Oudejans, R. R. D., Verbeek, J., Bakker, F. C., Putten, A. M. V., & Havenith, G. (2020). The influence of video assistant refereeing (VAR) on decision-making accuracy among soccer officials. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 51, 101750.
  • The International Football Association Board (IFAB). (2022). VAR Protocol. Retrieved from https://www.theifab.com/laws/var/protocol
  • Watanabe, Y., & Shimizu, M. (2018). Analysis of the Effect of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) on the Number of Fouls in Soccer Games. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 13(4), 561-566.


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