January 4 – Asia is striking a blow for the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system by introducing it in the knockout stages of the Asian Cup that gets under way this weekend.
As excitement builds ahead of the start of the first Asian Cup to embrace 24 teams, Shamsul Maidin, director of referees for the Asian Football Confederation, told a media briefing: “Asian refereeing is determined to embrace technology for the good of the game. Our focus at the moment is to guarantee that the VAR system functions seamlessly – we are committed to achieving the best result with the least interference.
“This is a timely opportunity to bring everyone onboard this game-changing journey – from the fans, the media, our broadcasters – it is essential for everyone to have one clear picture of how and when the VAR can and will be implemented.”
The VAR system, which aims to provide minimum interference with maximum benefit, is limited to four game-changing decisions or incidents. These are goal or no goal, penalty-kicks, red cards and mistaken identity decisions.
The AFC has appointed 19 licensed match officials to support the implementation of the VAR at the competition, all of whom have been trained in accordance with stringent requirements.
Andy Roxburgh, the AFC’s technical director, gave a cautious welcome to the move.
“Everybody had to be trained and to suddenly do this wasn’t easy but there’s been co-operation with FIFA ever since the World Cup and it was decided it would be worth fast-tracking the system and using it in the knockout rounds,” Roxburgh told Insideworldfootball.
“VAR has shown to be advantageous but there are still elements that need to be ironed out like games not losing momentum. Having said that, in principle it’s something that won’t even need to be debated longer term and will simply be accepted.”
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