The usage of video assistant referee (VAR) and its impact on players’ and fans’ emotional experience of football. (2022)
Video assistant referee (VAR) is comprised of three people who work together to review controversial decisions made by the on-pitch referee. VAR is used in four match-changing situations; penalties, red cards, goals, and mistaken identity (Chandler, 2021; FIFA, 2021). There are various gaps in past literature; notably, previous studies have not explicitly focused on the emotional impact VAR is having on both players and fans. This study addresses these gaps, conducting explorative research to collect qualitative data using interviews and Twitter sentiment analysis, to form the basis of this study. Primary semi-structured interviews are done with six professional players and six fans. Seven secondary interviews with professional players are also incorporated. This qualitative data is further analysed in terms of thematic analysis and sentiment analysis to help interpret and classify players' and fans' feelings and emotions resulting from VAR decisions in football. The findings illustrate that VAR is having more of an effect than its stated purpose of correcting ‘clear and obvious errors’. Fans and players highlight that VAR creates consistent feelings of doubt and hope due to the suspense it creates during key moments in matches. They also felt that VAR is currently ambiguous, as well as disruptive to the time and flow of football matches. The Twitter sentiment analysis revealed that sentiment is more negative than positive but overall very neutral, which is reflected in the interviews. The findings of this paper can help those who want to contribute to the advancement of the application and functionality of VAR technology in football. This study aims to provide useful information and encourage researchers and governing bodies to further investigate the application of technology in football and the impact on stakeholders in order to promote the growth and advancement of football, as well as further the application of VAR across professional football leagues worldwide.
KeywordsEmotions, fans, football, impact, players, soccer, VAR, video assistant referee, usage
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