October 5 – The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has moved to integrate the Video Assistant Referees, VAR, into its major club competitions. On Thursday, CAF announced that the VAR will feature in the finals of this season’s African Champions League and Confederation Cup.
The CAF Executive Committee pushed ahead with the decision at its meetings in the Egyptian resort Sharm El Sheikh. CAF General Secretary Amr Fahmy expressed his delight at the prospect of introducing the VAR in the continent’s major club finals.
“This is a historic moment for African football,” said Fahmy. “It clearly shows that CAF is determined and committed to the interclub competitions and will bring on board the latest and innovative technologies to make it better.”
“We [CAF] are the first confederation to use VAR in the final of the Club competitions. We did it for the CAF Super Cup and we are delighted to go a step further with the inter-club competitions.”
Recently UEFA announced that it will introduce VAR from the 2019/2020 season in the Champions League. This season matches in Europe’s prime club competition will not enjoy the benefit of the technology, which FIFA have trialled since 2016 and implemented at the World Cup in Russia this summer.
VAR made its African debut in February in the CAF Super Cup between 2017 Champions League winners Wydad Athletic Club and 2017 Confederation Cup winners TP Mazembe, with the Moroccans running out winners following a free kick from midfielder Amin Thigazaoui. In the 58th minute the referee reversed his decision of awarding a penalty to Wydad after an on-field review.
The technology could have debuted as early as the 2018 CHAN in Morocco in January, a tournament for national teams with locally based players, but at the time CAF refrained from doing so and held training sessions instead. The two-legged CAF Champions League final and Confederation Cup final will be decided in November.
To further train the referees in the build-up to this season’s CAF club finals twelve elite match officials (six referees and six assistant referees) will benefit from a preparatory course, scheduled for October 24-29 in Cairo. David Elleray, the technical director of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), will supervise the course.
The selected referees are Janny Sikazwe (Zambia), Ghead Grisha (Egypt), Mehdi Abid Charef (Algeria), Bamlak Tessema (Ethiopia), Victor Gomes (South Africa) and Papa Bakary Gassama (Gambia). The Assistant Referees include Emiliano Jerson Dos Santos (Angola), Zakhele Siwela (South Africa), Jean Claude Birumushahu (Burundi), Anouar Hmila (Tunisia), Abdelhak Etchiali (Algeria) and Mahmoud Abo El Regal (Egypt).
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