UEFA is continuing its intensive training courses for video assistant referees (VAR).
Another group of European match officials has undertaken three days of work in Nyon – with UEFA aiming to have more VARs ready for assignments by this summer.
The course, the latest in a series that began last autumn, featured 22 FIFA first and second category referees – two each from countries where the VAR system is already in operation. They were given expert guidance, and offered worthwhile feedback themselves, in theoretical and practical sessions led by UEFA Referees Committee chairman Roberto Rosetti, deputy chairman Hugh Dallas and UEFA refereeing officers Vlado Sajn and Marc Batta.
The VAR system, incorporated into the Laws of the Game last year, sees a video assistant referee review decisions made by the referee in certain key match situations with the use of video footage and a headset for communication.
The system was introduced by UEFA for the start of the UEFA Champions League knockout phase in February. A VAR team – a video assistant referee, an assistant video assistant referee and two video operators – has been located at each stadium to support the referee and help the match official take correct decisions.
The team constantly checks for clear and obvious errors related to the following four match-changing situations: Goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents and mistaken identity.
In addition to the UEFA Champions League, VAR will be deployed at next month’s UEFA Europa League final in Baku, the UEFA Nations League Finals in Portugal in June, and the UEFA European Under-21 Championship final tournament in Italy in the same month.
It will then be deployed at the 2019 UEFA Super Cup, and UEFA plans to subsequently extend the use of VAR to the UEFA EURO 2020 final tournament, as well as in the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League from the group stage onwards.
“The real goal of the course,” said Rosetti, “has been to increase the number of VARs available for UEFA competitions. This season, we started with the UEFA Champions League knockout phase – but next season, for example, we will start from the Champions League playoff stage and continue through the group stage and knockout phase. So we would certainly require a larger number of VARs.”
The Nyon course has given UEFA an ideal opportunity to test VARs in view of the forthcoming UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals. “The referees here for this course are all FIFA referees,” Rosetti explained. “We are in constant contact with VAR project leaders in countries where the system is in place, and they recommend the best VARs in their countries.”
“For us, the under-21 finals are very important,” Rosetti added. “We will use nine selected referees who are already in our VAR project, and we will also use a pool of VARs from countries where the project is also in operation. The best VARs from this course will be appointed immediately for our tournament.”
Rosetti emphasised that the VAR system was providing crucial help to referees in their decision-making. “We are trying to do our best for football,” he said, “by preventing clear and obvious [refereeing] mistakes.”