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It's Time For The Soccer World To Unite And Come To An Agreement About VAR

Illustration for article titled Its Time For The Soccer World To Unite And Come To An Agreement About VAR
Photo: Catherine Ivill (Getty)

“VAR is a dogshit system that poorly solves the marginal problems it was invented to address by privileging a make-believe standard of perfection at the expense of vastly more important values,” certain wise commenters have remarked about the addition of video replay to soccer. “VAR runs the risk of killing the emotions inspired in the hearts of fans by the most popular game ever created,” one genius manager has commented. “VAR sucks ass,” certain well-respected figures in German soccer have repeatedly said. “VAR is good,” yet other, mush-headed jabronis have quipped. “JUST STOP IT ALREADY!!!!” is what I, a humble fan of this sport I like to call “the beautiful game,” say on the subject. For in this time of division, what the soccer community needs is some unity and a mutual agreement about how we’re going to talk about VAR going forward.

Love it or hate it, VAR is a thing that is now in our lives. And let me tell you something: It ain’t goin’ away any time soon, ya hear? In that case, if we’re going to continue what has been such a polarizing debate, we should make sure that both sides are on the same page, at least in the areas where agreement is possible. And there is one such area of potential commonality I believe we can—no, must—hash out together. And that is this: Should we call it “VAR” like it’s a word or say each letter individually like “Vee-Ay-Are”?

There does seem to be some agreement at least amongst the powers that be that it should be “V-A-R.” FIFA has some official videos on their Youtube page that include people pretty uniformly pronouncing it that way. However, as the GIF inventor’s gross and wrong pronunciation of the moving image format he created attests to, just because the people who made a thing call it one thing doesn’t mean anyone has to listen to them.


The VAR-as-a-word pronunciation is already prevalent. Here’s retired Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg saying it as if it rhymed with “par,” though sometimes switching it up, probably in reaction to NBC Sports’ Rebecca Lowe saying it the other way. This video features Gary Lineker interviewing people about “VAR” for ten minutes, and it includes FIFA exec and former Croatia national teamer Zvonimir Boban pronouncing it mostly as “VAR” but sometimes as “V-A-R.” A brief inspection of Spanish language sources appears to confirm that the norm amongst our español-habloing amigos is to say it as a word. Clearly there is disagreement.

There’s no reason why we can’t come to an agreement on a particular pronunciation here. I personally would propose the adoption of the word version; it’s a simple, single-syllable, sonorous word that doesn’t sound like anything else and is mutually intelligible to speakers of all different languages. Meanwhile V-A-R is cumbersome, is a rare collection of letters that don’t rhyme, and doesn’t sound good. The choice of which pronunciation is better seems obvious.

But more important than any particular pronunciation winning out over the other is just that everyone comes to an agreement. Call it “VAR” or call it “V-A-R,” what matters is that we agree to call it the same thing. Once we do that, we can go back to convincing everyone that VAR by any name smells like shit.

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