VAR set to be introduced at 2019 Asian Cup in the UAE 'at some stage'

Technology will be used for January 5-February 1 event to be held in Emirates pending final confirmation that all necessary preparation is in place, AFC president says

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was used to great effect at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Reuters
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The Asian Football Confederation plans to introduce Video Assistant Referee (VAR) "at some stage" during next year's Asian Cup to be held in the UAE, the governing body said on Thursday.

After approval from Fifa and the International Football Association Board (IFAB) and consultation with the AFC Competitions and Referees Departments, the AFC Executive Committee approved the implementation of VAR at the January 5-February 1 event to be held in the Emirates pending final confirmation that all necessary preparation is in place.

With the tournament 100 days away, AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa cited the positive impact of the technology at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and that Asian football "is determined to embrace technology for the good of the game".

“We saw the VAR first hand during the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia and it was clear to everyone that there needed to be a great deal of training of officials and investment in facilities to make sure that the system was effective and a positive addition to the game," he told the AFC website.

“We are grateful for the support of Fifa and IFAB and now I have asked the Administration to ensure all the logistical elements and practical arrangements are in place so that we can introduce the VAR to enhance the AFC Asian Cup."


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Implementation should not be much of an issue given that VAR was used during the 2018 Fifa Club World Cup held in Abu Dhabi last December, although the technology was in its infancy at that stage and was not without problems. The main complaint was that players, coaches and fans were unaware that VAR was in use to check a contentious issue, but that was worked out by the time the World Cup was held in Russia over the summer.

The Asian Cup, last held in the UAE in 1996, has increased from 16 teams in 2015 to a record 24 for the 2019 edition.

Hosts UAE kick off the tournament against Bahrain in Abu Dhabi on January 5.