VAR Approved For The Champions League

Since 2016, the world of soccer has seen the implementation of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in the Serie A, Bundesliga, and most importantly, in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. According to the Associated Press, The UEFA Champions League will also start to do so in the 2019 playoffs, when European club-level soccer will take technology’s opinion for the first time in history.

VAR room during a 2018 FIFA World Cup match

A method that was preceded by ‘goalline technology’, where the referee’s wristwatch signals if the ball would cross the goalline, VAR is slowly gaining praise by soccer professionals and fans, who see its use as a necessity, rather than an embellished luxury.

European club soccer will now see the VAR use beginning February 16th of 2019, starting with the Round of 16 stage of the Champions League. The group stage ends on December 12th of this year, when Day 2 of Matchday 6 will decide what teams qualify into next year’s playoffs. So far, two situations been considered to make a strong case for the intervention of the VAR, and hopefully none will arise during perhaps the most important match of the stage; Liverpool-Napoli.

While the Premier League has to yet incorporate such services to its matches, the Italian and German leagues have often seen great benefit out of the main referee gesturing the ‘rectangular’ decision. However, English teams will see the use of VAR starting next season.

Referee Néstor Pitana gesturing the VAR rectangular shape during the 2018 World Cup Final

While goal-disputing stands out as the main focus of the VAR, wrongful red card-bookings of players, penalty calls, and mistaken identities of players, are all situations where the main referee will see fit to review plays. Many have criticized the arbitrary power of a referee when deciding whether a play is considered ‘reviewable’ or not. In many cases, situations have risen when the main official has relied on his initial judgment and refused to review despite the protesting of a ‘booing’ audience.

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WC VAR room photo:
WC Final VAR photo:

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