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Supplements » FundTech Winter 2019

Editorial: The tragedy of VAR

Nicholas_PrattAllow me to once more draw a parallel between football and fund management (see Fundtech passim). The world’s most popular sport has come under fire for its use of VAR. No, not value-at-risk, the much-maligned risk measure that failed to stop the financial crisis, but video assistant referees, the much-maligned officiating technology that has ruined one of football’s greatest properties – the goal celebration.

In football, VAR has been used to double-check no infringements occurred in the build-up to a goal. This has led to agonising waits for fans and players alike, especially if the goal is chalked off for the most minor infraction rather than the ‘clear and obvious error’ it was designed to correct. Consequently the technology has been pilloried.

Of course, it is not the technology that is the issue. Just as with automation in the funds industry, VAR was introduced because referees and their manual processes have found it increasingly hard to keep up with the pace of modern-day football and any mistakes have become ever more costly.

But even the best technology in the world can be ruined by a clunky implementation, failure to adapt the rulebook, or simple misuse. More time has to be taken to assess the impact of the technology on the most important stakeholders – the fans, otherwise known as end investors.

Nicholas Pratt, Technology & Operations Editor

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