The International Football Association Board, or IFAB, is going to discuss extending VAR reviews to other parts of the game. Currently, VAR can only step in for offsides, direct red cards, goals and mistaken identities. The latter would be for improperly booking someone. However, IFAB wants to make other parts of the game subject to review.

According to The Times, the VAR subgroup of IFAB is analyzing if the video replay technology should have more responsibilities. As a result, the refereeing board for the entire world is going to discuss adding VAR to decisions on corners, free kicks and yellow cards.

IFAB argues these are points of controversy that can have major impacts on games and ties. For example, referees may award a clear goal kick as a corner. The attacking team then scores off the corner, but VAR did not step in to review the decision. Moreover, a player may pick up a yellow card in a Champions League game. That could lead to accumulation and a suspension in the following fixture. VAR could step in and decide an offense was not worthy of a booking.

On Tuesday, IFAB will hold its business meeting in London. It will not make any further decisions until a more formal meeting in March. However, extending the reach of VAR would have major consequences for the game and how fans enjoy the sport.

More VAR reviews mean more delays

This season, VAR has been a point of major controversy. Not only was there an instance of referees blatantly getting a goal decision wrong as Liverpool lost to Tottenham, but delays have put a serious hamper on the quality of the viewing experience. Lengthy delays happen in every Premier League game, and they can last up to five minutes. While officials say that time comes back in stoppage time, the energy exits the game.

VAR reviews have led to referees taking over five minutes to make a decision on one call.
VAR reviews have led to referees taking over five minutes to make a decision on one call.

VAR reviews have led to referees taking over five minutes to make a decision on one call.

Take Chelsea’s win at Spurs as an example. Referees issued 21 minutes of stoppage time between the first and second halves. VAR disallowed four goals and issued two red cards. This is not to say the decisions were wrong, but the lengthy VAR reviews took any steam out of the game. The talking point was not the game, but rather the referees’ decisions.

Former Premier League referee Peter Walton said expanding the powers of VAR would not be the correct move for soccer or the Premier League.

“We wanted to keep it down to clear and obvious errors the match officials didn’t see or had mistaken,” Walton said. “Now, some people are looking at it to always come to the correct decision, but it was never meant for that, it was meant for things like the ‘Hand of God.’ I wouldn’t want to see it opened up any more as the game is very, very subjective.”

IFAB to look at other changes, too

The potential rule changes do not stop at VAR, either. At Tuesday’s meeting, IFAB will begin discussions about issuing red cards for deliberate handballs anywhere in the penalty box. Currently, it is only an ejection if the deliberate handball stops a goal-scoring effort. Also, referees want to combat dissent by implementing sin-bins with 10-minute in-game bans for players. Moreover, referees want to ensure that only the captain can come up to the referees to protest or discuss a decision.