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VAR: A Force for Good in South African Football?

An increasing number of wrong decisions by referees in the South Premier Soccer League (PSL) in the 2019/20 season have led to massive calls towards the inclusion of Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

Several incorrect calls by referees have caused not only controversy but are also affecting and impacting match outcomes which in essence can be equated to other ills threatening the integrity of sport such as doping and match fixing.

Howls, roars, groans and moans from football stakeholders have necessitated the need for VAR to be implemented in the local Premiership sooner rather than later.

Two time South African Referee of The Year and FIFA World Cup referee Jerome Damon now serving as FIFA’s Refereeing Development Officer for Africa and VAR Instructor for Africa also added his supporting voice that the PSL needs to embrace the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

“There is a big call for match officials to always get their decisions right at all times. This VAR technology will play a hand in making sure that such decisions are made in matches.

“FIFA has made it very clear that the VAR technology is here to stay. And that is because it is the future of refereeing in the sport.” said Damon.

Damon is currently conducting capacity building initiatives towards adoption of the technology on behalf of FIFA and CAF by conducting several workshops in different countries on the African continent.

However VAR has been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons in recent weeks especially in Europe mainly in the English Premier League and Uefa Champions League where some of its decisions have left fans questioning its authenticity.

In Africa, the technology was used for the first time at the 2019 African Cup of Nations tournament held in Egypt in June but it started from the round of 16 (knockout stage).

South Africa is likely to be the first country to introduce VAR in the near future as it is more technically advanced than any other country to implement VAR as the same technology has been used in the country in sports such as cricket and rugby said Damon.

In South Africa, two referees Mervyn van Wyk and Athuxolo Madela have been suspended for making controversial decisions in two matches involving title contenders Kaizer Chiefs whilst another two matches blighted by referees’ controversy are still under probe.

VAR which is used to change referees’ decisions when it is believed there’s been an error from any of the 3 referees handling the game could have possibly come in handy to avert the current refereeing “crisis”.

By Gerald Dandah

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