UEFA's chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti has led the project for the introduction of VAR in the UEFA Champions League. Here's his take on its implementation.
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VAR has been introduced for the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League. Can you explain the main reason for this?
We are convinced that it will be beneficial for our competitions as it will provide valuable help to match officials and will allow us to reduce incorrect decisions.
How have the referees reacted to these developments?
Very positively. We held various courses over the last few months with our top referees and they welcome any steps to ensure that, ultimately, the correct decision is made.
How have you prepared for this?
We had successful technological testing and trained the referees over the last few months. We have then tested VAR at selected matches and finalised preparations on all operational aspects. Now we are ready to implement VAR in the UEFA Champions League round of 16.
So when exactly and how does the VAR team intervene and communicate with the referee?
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. Our guidelines for UEFA matches on how to apply this protocol are very clear: the Video Assistant Referee will only intervene when he has the evidence for a clear and obvious mistake in four match-changing situations – goals and offences leading up to a goal, penalty decisions and offences leading up to a penalty, direct red-card incidents, and mistaken identity.
This includes goals scored after a foul during the attacking phase, or from an offside position. The latest 3D technology will help the Video Assistant Referee to determine whether an offside position has occurred.
The Video Assistant Referee will also intervene when there is evidence of serious foul play, which must be sanctioned with a direct red card in line with the Laws of the Game.
When does VAR intervene during penalty area incidents?
Again, the Video Assistant Referee intervenes only if there is clear evidence: clear foul play in the penalty area to give a penalty or clear evidence there was no infringement to rule out a penalty award. For example, in the case of handball, the Video Assistant Referee must intervene when there is clear evidence of a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with the hand or arm. The movement, distance, and position of the arm or hand are taken into consideration by the VAR team to judge if the contact was punishable, and an on-field review should be made by the referee.
In which situations will the Video Assistant Referee not intervene?
The Video Assistant Referee will not intervene when there is no clear evidence to justify a review.
How will VAR interventions be communicated to the fans?
During the on-field review process, TV viewers will be informed by commentators and broadcasters by graphics and there will also be graphics shown on stadium screens for fans to understand what decision has been taken.
How long do the reviews take?
VAR is not perfect but it will help referees to take correct decisions. Accuracy is definitely more important than speed. Nevertheless, time matters and we want to make reviews as efficient as possible.
Does UEFA have plans to introduce VAR in other UEFA competitions?
VAR will also be used at this season's UEFA Europa League final in Baku, the UEFA Nations League Finals in Portugal and the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Italy. As already decided previously, 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 for the final tournament of UEFA EURO 2020, the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League from the group stage onwards, and the 2021 UEFA Nations League Finals.