Five years of VAR: are more penalties being awarded?

We go to our database to find out what impact VAR has had on penalties awarded since its inception.


In our daily relationship with our clients, many of them turn to our database to extract all kinds of information, not only to find out how a certain player is performing or the best talents in a particular league. To give two quick examples, we can find out how many transfers per age group were made from one league to another in the last ten years or how often a team signs centre-backs over 180cm. To continue with another example that will be the central theme of this text, an interesting question is to know what has been happening with penalties awarded since the introduction of VAR (Video Assistant Referee).

Among the different cases where the VAR assists the referee (offside, goal, red card), determining whether a play was a penalty or not is perhaps the most decisive and most used, due to its importance in the game and the impact it can have on the match and the players.

This is the table of total penalties awarded in each of the top five leagues, taking as a reference the season in which VAR was introduced (green box), as it was not introduced in the same season in each of them, a tool that has had a great impact in all leagues, especially in the Spanish league and Serie A.

As each league has not played the same number of matches as there are not 20 teams in all leagues, we have filtered that data with the average per match, including the current season, in which Ligue 1 is the league with the most penalties per match being given, with 0.41 per match. Serie A 19/20 is the season with the most penalties per match of the big five leagues in the last seven seasons, when it recorded almost one penalty for every two matches.

VAR has brought about a major change in the number of penalties awarded. However, the incidence is not as high as it was before VAR, not because the tool is not helping to call more penalties but because it also helps in situations that may have been called before and are now overturned once they are reviewed. The Spanish case tells us that since the VAR was introduced, penalties have been reduced with experience but more penalties are still given than before the introduction of VAR.

We are Driblab, a consultancy specialized in the statistical analysis of players and teams; our work is focused on advising and minimizing risk in professional football decision-making in areas related to talent detection and footballer evaluations. Our database has more than 200,000 players from more than 180 competitions, covering information from all over the world. Here you can learn more about how we work and what we offer.

Autor: Alejandro Arroyo
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Información corporativa

Somos una empresa con sede en Madrid fundada en 2017 por Salvador Carmona y Cristian Coré Ramiro. Desde nuestros inicios nuestro trabajo se ha centrado en el análisis estadístico de datos para ayudar a los clubes en la planificación deportiva. Somos una consultora big data que ofrece servicios personalizados para cada cliente y defiende un modelo de gestión mixto y una comunicación constante para acompañar el día a día de las instituciones. Nuestro punto fuerte es la más amplia cobertura disponible en número de torneos profesionales y juveniles. Para más detalles, póngase en contacto con nosotros.

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