The VAR teams have been widely acclaimed for their excellent contribution to the positive atmosphere around the referees at the tournament and have been asked to maintain this upward momentum, especially as the system will expand within UEFA competitions in the coming season.
The VAR system was sanctioned in 2018 after extensive testing by the football legislature, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), and first introduced by UEFA in the UEFA Champions League the following year, working on the field and removing clear and obvious referee errors.
Since its inception, the system has been used in 517 games in UEFA competitions across Europe. Now that the VAR has proven itself, it will be expanded in the UEFA competition calendar for 2021/22.
The system will be used in the group stage of the UEFA Europa League, the UEFA Women’s Champions League from the quarter-finals, the remainder of the European Qualifiers program and play-offs for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as well as the UEFA Women’s EURO next summer in England.
In addition, VAR will be used throughout the third edition of the UEFA Nations League 2022/23 as well as in the European Qualifiers and Play-offs of UEFA EURO 2024 in addition to the final round in Germany.
Starting this month, a total of 152 stadiums in all 55 UEFA member associations across Europe will be certified for the use of the VAR system. In order to cope with the increased number of games, especially in national team competitions, a total of 120 VARs from 27 countries will be ready to fulfill this important task this season. In the international window in September, VAR will be in operation for 75 European Qualifiers matches over an eight-day period.
Positive EURO experience
UEFA Referees Committee Chairman Roberto Rosetti says the EURO was the most recent positive phase in a process of constant learning, refinement and adaptation, particularly with regard to the important VAR “line of intervention” – as an intervention by The VAR- Team is required for a situation during a game.
“We were very satisfied with the quality and reliability of the video assistant referees at EURO – all of their 18 decision corrections in the 51 games were 100% correct,” he explains. “But now the EURO is behind us, and we have to rethink and look ahead – the results of the EURO give us the impetus to challenge ourselves anew every day and to further improve our standards.”
Rosetti says the secret of the VAR system’s success at UEFA EURO 2020 is due in no small part to the centralized operation for this special event, with the entire VAR team based at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
The central structure in Nyon proved to be particularly suitable for a tournament format. “This enabled the entire VAR team to work together as a committed unit,” he recalls. “Meeting, preparation, study, debriefing – our subject teachers Carlos Velasco Carballo and Vlado Sajn gave us excellent support and the result was uniform and consistent interventions throughout the tournament.
“Everyone was on the same page. We believe that we set a new benchmark for the system at EURO. Our ‘line of intervention’ was correct. It was no surprise to me that the EURO turned out to be such a good experience for the VAR in the end. ”
Prepare for the future
A recent pre-season UEFA VAR course served as an important foundation for the growing number of upcoming missions. “As we are increasing the use of VAR in our competitions,” says Rosetti, “we have of course increased the number of video assistant referees, so it was important that we explain our guidelines – which are fully in line with the rules of the game – for newcomers , sensitize the VARs to their role and responsibility and emphasize how important their job is. “
Rosetti says VAR is proving particularly successful in tight offside situations. “At EURO 2020, for example, there were 30 close offside cases and nine VAR reviews – and we had 100% accuracy in the decisions made,” he emphasizes. “It is now clear to us that offside is no longer a big issue.
“We also saw that VAR helped to better assess incidents in the penalty area. We are getting faster when it comes to VAR interventions on a global scale. Communication between referees and VARs is improving. The overall picture is extremely positive. “Go forward.”
Support referees in decisions – protect the game
VAR has proven to be a worthwhile addition to football. It is also extremely important to emphasize that the referees remain at the center of the decision-making process. “The project aims to help referees,” says Rosetti, “and to protect the game on the basis of minimal interference for maximum benefit.”
“VAR is a project that is evolving every day. We learned something new at the EURO. We are very satisfied and strive for constant progress by adapting the system and adapting it whenever it is necessary or useful. “