FIFA Caribbean referee instructor, Denmore Roberts, has heralded the introduction of the Video Assistance Referee (VAR) but believes it would be a costly undertaking for the local association and others across the Caribbean.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Roberts, also a member of the local referees association, said that the funding needed to effectively introduce the VAR system could be used in other meaningful areas at this stage.
“It would be difficult for a small nation like ours to introduce VAR and in the level of football that we play we would have to ask ourselves if we would really need a VAR system in our domestic league. I feel that when we get to the next level, when the national team is playing when you go to CONCACAF tournaments that CONCACAF should make an effort to have the system in place to make it fairer but at our local level, I would not advise the ABFA to push their head into something like that,” he said.
“Use that money for VAR on development and finding new referees, younger people to come in so that they can run and create the angles so that the older ones who are there would not have to be relied upon as much,” he added.
Described as a ‘football assistant referee’ that reviews decisions made by the head referee with the use of video footage and a headset for communication, VAR utilises over 30 cameras strategically placed around the field.
The process begins with the video assistant referee(s) and the assistant video assistant referee (AVAR) reviewing the play in question on a bank of monitors in the video operation room (VOR) with the assistance of the replay operator.
This can be triggered by the referee requesting the review or by the VAR conducting a “check” to see if a review should be recommended to the referee. If the VAR finds nothing during the check, then communication with the referee is unnecessary, which is called a “silent check.”
Roberts said that he is pleased with how the technology is being used so far.
“One of the things that I am very pleased with where VAR is concerned is that the referees have not surrendered their authority, because if you noticed, there were some instances where the VAR is telling them to have a second look and the referees have been strong enough to go have a look and maintain their integrity or maintain their original call, and I think that was one of the things we were fearful of, that VAR was going to take over from the referee in terms of the calls and that every little that happened on the field would have been subject to review,” he said.
VAR was conceived by the Refereeing 2.0 project in the early 2010s, under the direction of the Royal Netherlands Football Association.
The system was tested through mock trials during the 2012–13 season of the Eredivisie, the country’s top football league. In 2014, the KNVB petitioned the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to amend its laws of the games to allow the system to be used during more extensive trials.
The IFAB approved trials and a pathway to full implementation during its 2016 general meeting.