Former United States men’s national team goalkeeper Tim Howard has given his support for the use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in soccer. The former star Everton shot-stopper even claimed that it is “low hanging fruit” to constantly complain about the technology. Howard made the comments in an article for Mail Sport.

VAR has been a heated topic of debate for fans, players, and coaches ever since it was introduced in the sport. FIFA initially approved the use of the replay technology ahead of the 2018 World Cup. It is now in use in most of the top soccer competitions, both club and international, around the globe.

Howard proclaims to be ‘big fan’ of VAR but technology needs improving

Howard initiated his thoughts on VAR by addressing Nottingham Forest‘s unique social media complaints at the weekend. The English side publicly criticized the Premier League‘s officiating after three separate incidents went against them. Forest claimed that VAR Stuart Atwell is a Luton Town fan and he failed to award Forest three penalties due to his apparent allegiance. Forest and Luton are currently fighting to avoid relegation in the standings.

The former USMNT star backed Forest’s public comments on the issue by stating that he “understands the gripe.” Howard continued by admitting that he is aware that many fans disagree with the club’s approach to their concerns. Nevertheless, despite understanding Forest’s claims, the former goalkeeper is still a “big fan” of VAR.

“We used to complain that the technology was there and we weren’t using it,” proclaimed Howard. “So now the question should not be: technology vs. no technology. Only: how do we make it better? The technology is still operated by humans and that means you’re going to get wrong decisions. But for the most part VAR works.”

“The introduction of semi-automatic offsides will help speed it up and take away human error. And to me, it is low hanging fruit to complain about it all the time. We’d moan if we didn’t have it!”

English fans have lower support for VAR due to refs involved

Howard is certainly correct in asserting that fans, players, and coaches griped about refereeing decisions before VAR. Officiating will almost always be a main talking point in games, particularly close matchups. These complaints will occur whether the technology is in use or not. However, the use of replay and semi-automated offside does still help referees make correct calls.

A recent study showed that a majority of European soccer supporters approved the use of VAR in their specific leagues. 70% of fans in Italy, Spain, and France agreed that the technology has made the sport more fair. Nevertheless, of the top five leagues in the continent, English fans had the lowest appreciation for VAR (62%).

This figure would indicate that there is perhaps more of an issue with the people running the technology, rather than VAR itself. Replay technology, due to human error, cannot exactly be perfect. However, having competent and reliable people in charge of VAR certainly raises the accuracy level of the technology.