Liam Morgan ©ITG

The introduction of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) technology in football was supposed to clear up the confusion and uncertainty which usually accompanies any major decision by an official.

Instead, a VAR trial at tournaments such as the Confederations Cup and leagues, including Germany’s top-flight Bundesliga, has provided more questions than answers.

Critics of the technology have uttered a range of words to describe it since the International Football Associations Board, the sport's lawmakers, authorised the use of VAR on an experimental basis back in March 2016.

Not many have been positive.

Former professionals and referees have labelled VAR - which can only decide whether or not to award a goal or a penalty, for straight red cards and in cases of mistaken player identity - as a "shambles", while others have accused FIFA President Gianni Infantino of rushing the process to ensure it is available at next year's World Cup in Russia.

Welsh FA chief executive Jonathan Ford went a step further, telling the Mail on Sunday that implementing the technology in Russia next summer, as is the hope of Infantino, could be "dangerous" for the tournament.

"My major concern is we are rushing into this," Ford said.

"To have it at the World Cup finals is really quite a dangerous thing to do. It's a high-risk strategy if it all goes wrong and has to be booted out afterwards."

Ford's comments come after a long line of mistakes and errors with the use of VAR, which have prompted suggestions FIFA may be forced to shelve plans to take the historic step of allowing technology to influence decisions at their flagship event for the first time.

Currently, that seems to be the sensible idea.

Yes, the whole point of a trial is to iron out any potential issues with the technology. These types of experiments are designed to eradicate errors and find areas in which it can be improved.

But there have been far too many problems with it to date. The debate around whether it should or not be used has largely focused on the catalogue of errors we have seen in recent months, particularly at the Confederations Cup in Russia in June and July, where VAR endured its toughest and most stringent test run.

The use of VAR has sparked controversy during its trial so far ©Getty Images
The use of VAR has sparked controversy during its trial so far ©Getty Images

Unfortunately for advocates of the technology, numerous errors occurred with VAR during the event, the traditional warm-up competition for the following year's World Cup, including in the final between Germany and Chile.

Chile defender Gonzalo Jara was rather fortunate to escape a red card when he appeared to elbow Germany's Timo Werner, who was subsequently left on a heap on the floor following the challenge from the South American.

Jara was shown yellow rather than red after the incident, despite the VAR being consulted. Those of us who saw it were unanimous in our belief that he should have been given his marching orders but the officials disagreed, even after watching it back on video and from numerous camera angles.

This had come after on-field official Wilmar Roldan needed two reviews of an incident to send off the correct Cameroon player during their clash with Germany earlier on at the event.

Since then, several issues have been reported in the Bundesliga, with clubs feeling aggrieved that VAR contributed to the wrong decision being given against them. Problems have also surfaced in Ligue 1 in France, which is among the leagues trialling VAR along with The Netherlands' Eredivisie, Serie ‘A’ in Italy and Major League Soccer in the United States. It will also be trialled during the English FA Cup, the country's premier domestic cup competition, later this season.

Three matches on the opening weekend of action in Germany in August were played without full use of VAR due to technical issues such as the on-pitch referee being unable to contact his video-watching counterparts, fuelling the fire of its critics and prompting the German Football League (DFL) to claim this was "unacceptable".

"Massive technical problems for service provider Hawkeye led to restrictions on the use of the video assistant at the 3.30pm matches in the Bundesliga," a DFL statement at the time read.

"Despite a comprehensive preparation phase, which was intensified after the premiere at the Super Cup on August 5, the use at three games was either temporary or not possible."

Many thought the VAR got it wrong when failing to give Gonzala Jara a red card during the Confederations Cup final against Germany ©Getty Images
Many thought the VAR got it wrong when failing to give Gonzala Jara a red card during the Confederations Cup final against Germany ©Getty Images

A common complaint is that the technology remains flawed and is further from the finished article that many would have hoped it would be by this stage of its development.

Others claim there is too long a delay in the VAR reaching a decision, an issue which was highlighted during a Bundesliga match between Hertha Berlin and Bayern Munich today where it took more than three minutes for the team of officials to overturn the awarding of a penalty to the latter side.

Referees also seem reticent to use it at times, perhaps fearful of their mistake being highlighted in all its glory to the watching crowd and television audience. 

This trend has also appeared in cricket, where umpires do not feel the need to make a call either way as their decision will be either backed up or overturned by technology.

Of course, VAR has had its successes and it would be wrong to condemn the trial as a complete failure.

Massimo Busacca, the head of refereeing at FIFA, seems to be a fan as he said during the Confederations Cup that "we have really good results" before warning that there were "many aspects" which could be improved.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has been accused of rushing the implementation of VAR ©Getty Images
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has been accused of rushing the implementation of VAR ©Getty Images

Although it has, in certain circumstances, negated the favoured debate about refereeing decisions in pubs and bars across the world, VAR has shown what can be possible going forward to ensure matches are not decided by the man in the middle.

But the decisions it gets wrong will always be given more prominence than the ones it gets right. After all, its main aim is to eradicate errors, not produce them.

Infantino might say VAR is the future for football and he has been full of praise for the trial.

But if the clear issues raised thus far are not rectified, its future might be bleak and implementation at the 2018 World Cup seems a long way off.