Video Assistant Referee in a Small-Nation Context: Intensified Mediatization

Kirsten Frandsen*, Kirstine Landgrebe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Using the Danish Superliga as a case, this article explores how football’s implementation of a video assistant referee (VAR) instigates complex processes of change which imply not only a further decrease in football’s institutional autonomy, but also intensifies inequality. It is argued that the implementation has to be seen from the perspective of professional football’s historical relationship with broadcast television; however, implementation of VAR represents a qualitative shift in the digital age, in which football’s dependence on media reaches a new functional level. André Jansson’s critical conceptualization of mediatization as transactional, ritual, and functional dependence is used as a framework for exploring how values, roles, and practices are under transformation among players, coach/managers, and referees. The analysis illustrates how the small-nation context, existing national and international hegemonic structures, and inequalities in combination with media logic and economics play a significant role and influence ongoing renegotiations of values and practices among these key actors. It also shows how refereeing is becoming much more complex with VAR, moving the pressure to the new role as video assistant referee, creating dilemmas in the team of referees and changing the authority of the referee from an individual into a more collective matter.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunication and Sport
Pages (from-to)811–829
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • decision-aid technologies
  • football
  • mediatization
  • refereeing
  • small nation


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