Video Assistant Referees ready for UEFA Nations League finals!

For the first time in a UEFA National Team competition, Video Assistant Referees (VAR) will be used at the upcoming UEFA Nations League finals in Portugal. The coaches of the four finalist teams received a briefing and share their views on the benefits of VAR.

After successful technological testing and the training of referees, Video Assistant Referees (VAR) have been used in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages and the UEFA Europa League final. The same principles will be applied for the inaugural UEFA Nations League Finals, which kick-off on June 5 and will feature England, Portugal, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

To get the coaches accustomed to the introduction of VAR, UEFA held a briefing for the coaches of the finalists in April, where they were given detailed instructions of how the system works by UEFA’s chief refereeing officer, Roberto Rosetti.

Ronald Koeman, the head coach of the Netherlands said, “The VAR is a good help to make football fairer and most of the mistakes will be corrected. That of course is a good thing. We must realize, however, that discussions will continue to exist, because you can often interpret actions in multiple ways. I am in favour of the VAR tackling the big, obvious issues only, rather than to search endlessly for potential errors.”

Vladimir Petkovic, the head coach of Switzerland said, “I am very positive about the introduction of the VAR. If we have the technical means to support the referees in their work, we should make the best possible use of them. It is important, however, that in the end it is still man who decides, not a machine.”

Fernando Santos, the head coach of Portugal said, “I believe that the introduction of VAR in the UEFA Nations League represents a step forward for all people who love football and fair play. VAR is a fantastic tool for all referees, players and coaches and it should be extended to all UEFA competitions.”

Gareth Southgate, the head coach of England said, “We had a good briefing in Porto recently and had positive experiences of VAR in the World Cup. My feeling both internationally and domestically is that, in the main, the big decisions have been right. The purpose of using VAR is to help the referees so I think it has been a help. You will never get a system that is 100 per cent fail-safe but the key decisions that are clear and obvious have been rectified. For me, that is a positive.”

Here is a quick guide to how it will work in the UEFA Nations League.

• A VAR team – a video assistant referee, an assistant video referee, and two video operators – will be located at each stadium and will support the decision-making process of the referee.
• The VAR team will constantly check for clear and obvious errors related to the following four match-changing situations:
a. Goals
b. Incidents in the penalty area
c. Red cards
d. Mistaken identity
• The VAR team will check all match-changing situations, but will only intervene for clear and obvious mistakes. The referee can hold up play while a decision is being reviewed.
• If the VAR review provides clear evidence for a serious mistake in one of the game-changing situations, the VAR can then ask the referee to conduct an on-field review (by viewing replay footage in the review area). The final decision can only be taken by the referee.
The four match-changing situations explained
• The VAR is also able to take into account any infringement that could have taken place in the immediate build-up to the incident (the attacking phase of play).
• For ‘factual’ decisions (e.g. offsides, fouls in or outside the penalty area), the VAR can simply inform the referee of those facts and the on-field view screen isn’t needed, but it is always the referee who takes the final decision.
• The on-field review process will be communicated within the stadium using either the stadium screens or the public announcement system.
• Because VAR is being used, there will be no additional assistant referees.

The protocol on when and how to use VAR has been defined by the International Football Association Board, which also defines the Laws of the Game.

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