Following a decision taken by the UEFA Executive Committee in December 2018, Video Assistant Referees (VAR) will be used in the UEFA Champions League from the round of 16 this season.
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After successful technological testing and the training of referees over the last few months, Video Assistant Referees (VAR) will be in use from now on for all UEFA Champions League matches.
VAR has been introduced at domestic and international level in other competitions. Nevertheless, here is a quick guide to how it will work in the UEFA Champions 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:
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 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.
In addition, the UEFA Executive Committee decided to also use VAR at the 2019 UEFA Europa League final, the 2019 UEFA Nations League Finals and the final tournament of the 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championship. As already decided during the September meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee, VAR will then also be used in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League, from the play-off stage of the competition, and at the 2019 UEFA Super Cup. UEFA still plans to subsequently extend the use of VAR to the UEFA EURO 2020 final tournament, the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League (group stage onwards) and the 2021 UEFA Nations League Finals.
For a full interview with UEFA chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti about the introduction of VAR, please click here.
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. The IFAB VAR protocol is available here.