How VAR and instant replay have transformed the 2018 World Cup (so far)

2018 world cup var video assistant refereeing  room fifa russia
The Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) Room at the International Broadcasting Center in Moscow, Russia. FIFA / Getty Images

At the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, innovative technology is being put to work in ways the sport of soccer has never seen before. Thanks to the use of replay tech called Video Assistant Referee (otherwise known as VAR), penalties, offsides, and other infractions are subject to review whenever the on-field referee deems it necessary. Seen by many as a sort of 12th man, VAR tech figures to have a significant impact on the outcome of almost every World Cup match.

For several years, major sports have turned to instant replays to help on-field officials make the correct call. The NFL makes use of a replay system to review every scoring play or turnover, without a coach having to use one of the team’s two allotted challenges. Replay is also used in the NBA to determine which team should be awarded a side out on close plays inside the last two minutes of each half. Soccer refused to participate in this trend — until now.

VAR use is fairly straightforward, according to FIFA: When an incident occurs on field, the referee informs the VAR (or sometimes the other way around, should the virtual ref spy something the non-field ref missed). The VAR reviews footage from the numerous cameras stationed around the field; according to FIFA, the video assistant referee team has access to 33 broadcast cameras, eight of which are super slow-motion and four of which are ultra slow-motion cameras. There are ultra high-definition (UHD) cameras as well. After the VAR reviews the video footage, he relays his advice to the on-field referee, who then makes a judgement based on that information.

2018 world cup var on the field fifa
A variety of video cameras are available to the VAR team at FIFA World Cup 2018 matches. FIFA

As it makes its official debut in Russia, its influence on World Cup matches is changing the trajectory of the tournament. To help keep track of VAR’s usage, we’ve compiled the following list of every World Cup match in which replay was used — and seemingly altered the outcome.

Portugal vs. Iran

It seemed Portugal was headed to a thrilling 1-0 victory before the use of VAR confirmed a Portugal handball in their own box in the 93rd minute. Iran’s Karim Ansarifard converted from the spot to draw Portugal, yet it wasn’t enough as Iran was still eliminated from contention.

Spain vs. Morocco

In a match capable of deciding if Spain or Portugal would top Group B, Morocco held on to a 2-1 lead with mere minutes remaining. In the 91st minute, Spain’s Iago Aspas netted the equalizing goal that required a several minute VAR review to confirm. The draw put Spain on top of the group and officially eliminated Morocco from the World Cup.

Nigeria vs. Iceland

Down 2-0 with roughly 10 minutes to go in the match, Iceland was awarded a penalty kick after VAR concluded Nigeria committed a foul in the penalty box. Unfortunately, Iceland wasn’t able to convert the PK and the scored stayed 2-0 until the final whistle.

Brazil vs. Costa Rica

In the second half, Brazil superstar Neymar appeared to be tugged to the ground by Costa Rican defender Giancarlo Gonzalez. After initially awarding Brazil a penalty kick, the referee leaned on VAR to show Neymar did, in fact, flop in the box. Brazil ended up winning 2-0 after slotting home two second-half, extra-time goals via Philippe Coutinho and Neymar.

Australia vs. Denmark

Denmark had the lead during the first half, scoring a goal at the seven-minute mark from the foot of Christian Eriksen. However, seven minutes later, the VAR confirmed a penalty in favor of Australia, giving the Socceroos a penalty kick that equalized the score at 1-1. That score held true through the final whistle.

Iran vs. Spain

A hard-fought match between Iran and Spain culminated in 1-0 victory for the Spaniards. Yet Iran saw two of its potential goals called back due to offsides calls. The first was clear, while the second required the use of the VAR to determine. Sadly, players celebrated the goal only to be disappointed moments later.

Portugal vs. Spain

Portugal’s opening match versus Spain was more than just a match between European powerhouses: It marked VAR’s official coming out party on the World Cup stage. With Portugal up 1-0, Spanish striker Diego Costa equalized in the 24th minute and the referee made use of VAR to ensure there were no f0uls prior to Costa’s strike. A thrilling match, the final score was a 3-3 draw.

Peru vs. Denmark

During the match, the referee leaned on VAR replay to determine whether to award a penalty that was being asked for by the Peruvian team. Despite the ref ultimately calling a penalty in Peru’s favor, Christian Cueva missed the shot and Denmark prevailed in the game thanks to a goal from Yussuf Yurary Poulsen in the second half.

Russia vs. Egypt

After a foul inside the penalty area, VAR was used to verify a penalty in favor of Egypt. From the spot, Mohamed Salah executed an excellent strike to score his first goal for his country in a World Cup.

Sweden vs. South Korea

During the first half of Sweden’s match versus South Korea, the referee did not mark a clear foul — and thanks to VAR, Sweden was awarded a penalty. The reversed foul resulted in a PK that was executed successfully by Sweden, marking the only goal of a game Sweden would go on to win.

France vs. Australia

After France forward Antoine Griezmann was fouled inside the penalty area, VAR confirmed the penalty and awarded France a penalty kick. The play took place roughly 11 minutes into the second half as Greizemann was shot down by Joshua Risdon. At first, the foul was not charged but the ref quickly turned to replay help. The game ended with a final score of 2-1 in favor of the French.

Emerging Tech

Chinese authorities break up billion-dollar cryptocurrency gambling ring

Whenever there's a major sporting event, there will be gambling and the World Cup is no exception. Chinese authorities have broken up a billion-dollar enterprise focused on betting cryptocurrencies on the outcome of the World Cup.
Emerging Tech

Beat the heat with this super-cool personal air conditioning unit

Taking the form of a 7-Eleven Big Gulp cup, the Airwirl is actually a personal AC device that is small enough to fit in a cup holder and big enough to pack a punch of hot or cool air into your face.
Emerging Tech

Man vs. machine: An A.I. algorithm attempts to break a world speed record

A new machine learning algorithm created at Switzerland’s EPFL is being used to design what its creators hope is the world's fastest bicycle. It will attempt a world record later this year.

Everything you need to know about ‘World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth’

'World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth' is the latest expansion for the now 14-year-old MMORPG. It goes back to the roots of the Alliance vs. Horde conflict. Here's everything you need to know including features, armor, races, and launch…

These might be the best photos shot with an iPhone in 2018

The iPhone Photography Awards (IPPAWARDS) announced its official winners of its 11th annual global competition. Each one was selected from thousands of entries spanning over 140 countries around the world.

Don’t like the Touch Bar? Too bad. Apple’s new Macbooks make it almost mandatory

Apple surprised the world by launching the 2018 update of its MacBook Pro. While these new six-core laptops are powerful, we were disappointed to learn that the entry-level models were completely out of luck.

Aston Martin shoehorns V8 Vantage S running gear into a Cygnet for Goodwood

Recently, at the world-famous Goodwood Festival of Speed in the United Kingdom, Aston Martin engineers shoehorned the V8 and seven-speed Sportshift II transmission from a V8 Vantage S into the body of a Cygnet.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in July 2018, from ‘Coco’ to ‘Jurassic Park’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in every genre for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.

What to expect at Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event in August

The Galaxy Note 9 will be introduced to the world at Samsung Unpacked on August 9, but it's likely won't be the only new hardware in attendance. Here's everything you can expect to see at Samsung Unpacked 2018.

These are the best video chat apps to help you stay in touch

Though still relatively new, video chat apps can help you connect with people from around the world. Here are our personal favorites to help you keep in touch regardless of smartphone OS.

‘Octopath Traveler’ tells eight stories, and they’re all forgettable

Octopath Traveler has a beautiful look and a massive world that can span 40 or 50 hours of gameplay. Yet one of the game’s key hooks, the story, falls short of expectations.
Virtual Reality

Got a Gear VR headset? These are the apps and games you've got to try

Before you put on your new Gear VR headset, you should know which apps and games are worth downloading. Whether you're a fan of documentaries or arcade games, here's a list of the best Gear VR apps and games to be had.
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Extinction,’ ‘Christopher Robin,’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. To simplify things, we round up the best of the best each week. On tap this week: A look at Extinction, a world-ending thriller from Netflix.

Sleep anywhere with this tent designed to conquer land, sea, and air

The Tentsile Universe is a new tent designed to bring versatility to the campsite. It can be set up like a traditional model and accommodate five campers, suspended from a tree, or converted into a floating raft.

Lyft wants to partner with cities to add bike and scooter sharing

Lyft announced a multi-mode transportation plan to bring bike and scooter sharing to cities. To kick off the new initiative Lyft will invest $1 million to help nonprofits establish income eligible transportation programs.

‘Part coat, part science experiment,’ a jacket made of graphene is on the way

Outdoor performance apparel manufacturer Vollebak announced it will release a jacket made from graphene later this summer, marking one of the first times the material has been used in clothing.

Dirt-cheap camping gear that’s actually worth spending your money on

Buying new camping gear can get very expensive, but these products offer great performance without breaking the bank, proving that you don't need to buy name brand equipment to have a good time in the backcountry.

The best Amazon Prime Day smartwatch deals (updated)

Amazon Prime Day is upon us, and that means deals, deals, deals. We've been scouring through endless pages on Amazon looking for the best, and we've rounded up a good list of smartwatch deals if you're looking for one.

Trek now lets you build your bike, right down to the paint job

Trek takes bike customization to a new level with Project One Icon, a new option that allows cyclists to select a bike model and customize every part of it, including selecting a paint job that matches their style.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Laptop screen extenders and self-healing tents

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!