Scottish fans say VAR is spoiling football as followers of Hearts, Hibs, Celtic, Rangers, etc make views clear
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Scottish football fans have voted overwhelmingly against VAR and say it is ruining their football experience on a regular basis. Followers of Hearts, Hibs, Celtic, Rangers and a host of other clubs made their views clear in the latest survey by the Scottish Football Supporters Association.
A staggering 86 per cent of voters stated that VAR - the Video Assistant Referee system which reviews major incidents during matches - is reducing their enjoyment of football. Only four per cent of the 2,710 people polled agreed that VAR has improved their experience inside stadiums.
A number of controversial decisions and reviews have put VAR in the spotlight since it was introduced in Scotland a year ago. Supporters are not impressed by its impact and many would prefer to revert to previous methods where a referee's on-field decision was final without the influence of video replays.
In total, 95 of fans feel the time delays around VAR decisions are too long, 66 per cent would rather tolerate wrong decisions than see the flow of the game disrupted by VAR, 92 per cent of people want goal-line technology introduced in Scotland, and 70 per cent of supporters think match officials are now relying on var to make decisions for them.
Furthermore, 85 per cent of voters feel refereeing performances have worsened since the introduction of VAR (an increase of 11 per cent from the previous SFSA survey last year). It was also made clear by 66 per cent of fans that they would rather tolerate more incorrect decisions than continue with the disruption to matches caused by VAR (an increase of 10 per cent).
The SFSA has more than 72,000 members and asked a number of additional questions in this year's survey, which returned some telling answers. It revealed that 80 per cent of fans do not like the way assistant referees no longer flag immediately for offside, 74 per cent want the handball law to revert to ‘only for deliberate handball', 63 per cent believe fully-automated offside would be a significant improvement, and 56 per cent would scrap VAR altogether.
Only 16 per cent of the supporters surveyed want VAR extended in the interests of fairness to cover more than the immediate phase of play.
The results offer a clear indication of fans' feelings towards the changes in how football games are officiated, and the level of dissatisfaction created.
Alastair Blair, an SFSA board advisor, explained the outcome. "The results from this survey demonstrate clearly that Scottish football fans are not happy with the impact VAR has had on the game in the year since it was first introduced," he said.
"In my view, VAR sucks the joy out of the game. Supporters spend their money to be lost in the moment of a goal being scored, but since the introduction of VAR that is no longer possible. For me, the most telling statistic is that two-thirds of fans would rather tolerate the errors that might come without VAR than put up with the interruptions that VAR introduces to the game.
"It is never a good idea for any industry to ignore the views of its customers so let’s see if the relevant authorities are prepared to listen to the overwhelmingly negative views of fans about VAR that this survey has clearly shown."
More details are available at the SFSA website: https://scottishfsa.org