VAR a ‘safety net’: Hyundai A-League refs boss

Hyundai A-League referees won’t change the way they officiate games when the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system is introduced this weekend – it’s more of a safety net says the refs’ boss Ben Wilson.

Australia’s premier competition will become the first top-tier domestic football league in the world to implement VARs on Friday night when Melbourne City host Adelaide United at AAMI Park.

A-League first to use Video Assistant Referees

New A-League VAR: What you need to know

FIFA has been trialling VARs around the world since the International Football Advisory Board (IFAB) – the body that determines football’s laws of the game – approved testing of the system in March 2016.

VARs can provide assistance on “match-changing incidents” in four distinct categories: goals, penalties, direct red cards and cases of mistaken identity.

While VARs have been used at the 2016 Club World Cup plus various other friendlies and one-off matches around the world, this weekend will be the first time it has been utilised across an entire league.

The A-League will use VARs for the remaining two rounds of the 2016/17 Season plus the three weeks of the Finals Series.

Shaun Evans

Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) director of referees Ben Wilson insisted on Tuesday, however, that the use of video technology will not change how match officials go about their job in the first instance.

“They will not be changing the way they referee the game,” he told reporters.

“They’re still responsible for making the decision. They will make their decision and they will referee the game as if there is no VAR there.

“In the occasional event or the rare event that there is an error then there is that safety net of the VAR to correct that.”

While the VAR system doesn’t employ the exact equipment used by the Premier League and other competitions for goal-line technology, the Head of the A-League Greg O’Rourke claimed the new method might overtake such individual schemes.

“The EPL [Premier League] have their goal-line technology as you know but then they don’t have the broader technology that we’re bringing in,” O’Rourke said.

“We might find that actually goal-line technology is actually superseded by the fact that we have the VAR because it will pick up all the goal/no goal decisions.”