Manchester United set for VAR debut against Huddersfield Town in FA Cup fifth round

by Leo Nieboer

Manchester United will play their first game with video assistant referee technology against Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup fifth round this month.

VAR was first employed in a competitive professional game in April 2017 when Melbourne City played Adelaide United and has since been installed in both Serie A and the Bundesliga, along with other divisions in Korea, Portugal and the United States.

The technology has been used in England for the first time this season during FA Cup meetings and had a notable impact on Liverpool’s 2-3 defeat to West Ham United.

And it has been confirmed that Man United will play their first game with VAR in place on 17 February 2017.

United would have certainly benefitted from the use of VAR for the challenge on Scott McTominay during the 2-0 win over David Wagner’s side last weekend – a clear red card and penalty.

In this sense, technology is a welcome addition to our game but the extent to which VAR is used, and how much time it consumes, is still a matter of public concern. Resentment towards it is understandable, particularly with the older generation, given the various caveats that still remain in its infancy.

A primary concern – and one that does need to be addressed – states that VAR decisions disrupt the vital flow of any game, along with excluding those in the crowd from its conclusions over vital moments.

But in similar fashion to how many would have been flabbergasted with the overly expensive, complicated and potentially dangerous implications of aviation, we will, over time, come to see VAR as a natural part of the game.

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