Above all, I feared the flow of the game would be affected by frequent VAR checks. After seeing the effectiveness of VAR in various competitions, however, it is impossible to imagine a top-level football match now without video assistance. Euro 2020 has seen its fair share of VAR interventions. Had VAR not been available, Germany would have lost to France in Group F by three goals, instead of one. On both occasions, VAR adjudged the fleet-footed French forward Kylian Mbappe had been off-side. Mbappe is so fast that it is difficult for the naked eye to spot any off-side infringement by him. Had the on-field assistant referee ruled the goals out, Mbappe would have wasted some time by arguing with the official. The French superstar, however, accepted the verdict of VAR stoically.
In other words, players trust technology more. No match summed up the importance of VAR more than Poland vs Spain in Group E. First, Spanish forward Alvaro Morata’s goal was flagged for off-side, only to be ruled legitimate by VAR subsequently. The assistant referee who made the call wasn’t far off the mark, as an early replay appeared to vindicate his decision. But the luxury of different angles helped VAR to allow the goal eventually. Later in the same match, the referee awarded a penalty to Spain when the scoreline was 1-1. After being alerted about a possible foul on Gerard Moreno that warranted a penalty kick, the referee had a look at the pitch-side monitor and pointed to the spot. That Moreno hit a post from 12 yards and Morata skied the rebound to present a double whammy to Spain was a different story.
Another fine call by VAR chalked off Romelu Lukaku’s goal against Finland in Group B. The Belgian looked perplexed and frustrated at first but had no option other than moving on in the belief that VAR knew better than the on-field officials. Lukaku was only millimetres off-side, with his left toe conspiring against him. VAR has also brought down direct red card fouls dramatically, as players know the Big Boss is watching. VAR is certainly not infallible because interpretation is done by human beings. But it cannot be an argument against technology, just as incompetent drivers cannot get cars banned.