As Premier League gears up for new offside tech, a look at how football fans feel about VAR
April 30th, 2024, Rishad Dsouza

As Premier League gears up for new offside tech, a look at how football fans feel about VAR

The introduction of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology has always been a point of contention. As the Premier League announces the plan to introduce semi-automated offside technology (SOAT)to reduce the time taken to adjudicate on offside calls, we revisit the topic of acceptance of VAR.

According to a recent poll conducted by YouGov, opinions about the impact of the technology are split among football followers: 47% see VAR's impact as positive, while 46% view it negatively. The share of fans of other sports who rate comparable sports technologies negatively is much lower.

But how big a role do fans think VAR should play in football? The majority (43%) prefer a reduced role for VAR, including 18% advocating for a significant decrease. This contrasts with similar technological interventions in cricket, tennis, and rugby, where a far smaller share of fans call for a decrease in technology's role. For example, only 4% of cricket fans, 8% of tennis enthusiasts, and 14% of rugby supporters express a desire for less involvement of technology in their respective sports.

Despite the relatively high negative sentiment towards VAR relative to other comparable sports technologies, the overwhelming majority of football fans do appreciate the value that technology could bring to sport. Nearly a third (31%) prioritize accuracy and fairness and advocate for more technology, while 60% believe in introducing a balance between the implementation of technology and care to not disrupt the natural flow of the game too much. Only 6% oppose technology in sport altogether.

As the Premier League prepares to introduce semi-automated offside technology, the debate continues, reflecting the delicate balance between tradition and progress in football.

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