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VAR technology introduced in Croatia to help improve accuracy of football refereeing

Training in the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system takes place in Croatia.
  • Croatian Football Federation received final IFAB approval for VAR usage
  • Introduction of VAR in Croatia financed through the FIFA Forward Programme
  • Fans’ trust in the accuracy of refereeing expected to substantially grow
  • The first HT First Division match with VAR technology was played between Inter Zapresic and Istra 1961 on 31 January

Croatian Football Federation (HNS) has recently fulfilled all the necessary requirements to introduce VAR technology into Croatian football.

The football-obsessed Mediterranean country has completed all the activities and referee education steps in order to introduce the latest technology - funded through FIFA Forward Programme - into Croatian football. During the process, 11 VARs, 13 AVARs, 16 referees and five replay operators received the necessary education to operate it.

"Congratulations to everyone who contributed to this demanding, extensive project. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Croatian Football Federation and FIFA for their uttermost support. A lot of funds, hard work, and time has been invested into VAR education, and we are proud to have received a positive reply from IFAB, in order to start using VAR technology this spring - just as it was planned", said HNS vice-president Ante Kulusic.

In line with the project, HNS also organised two educational events for media representatives to familiarise them with the VAR system, which was used for the first time on 31 January 2020 in a HT First Division match between Inter Zapresic and Istra 1961.

A detailed lecture on VAR usage, the philosophy behind the technology, the rules for its application, and the principles according to which it works were part of the introduction provided by FIFA representatives. Financed through the FIFA Forward Development Programme, the new technology is expected to increase football spectators’ trust in the accuracy and reliability of refereeing.

“This is a big step forward for HNS. By introducing VAR, our aim was to grow football spectators’ trust in the accuracy of refereeing in Croatian football. I think we’ve made a great move and that this is another huge improvement for Croatian football, just like the new hybrid pitches we built were big improvements in terms of infrastructure. I would like to thank everyone who worked on this project,” said HNS Executive Director Marijan Kustić.

HNS vice-president and head of the Football Referees Committee Ante Kulusic served as project manager for VAR introduction in Croatia. Deeply involved in the project, he expressed his satisfaction and enthusiasm:

“I would like to thank the whole project team, including president [Davor] Suker, executive director [Marijan] Kustic, the HNS Executive Committee, and head of international affairs and licensing [Ivancica] Sudac. After obtaining IFAB’s approval, there are no more roadblocks in introducing VAR, which will be used at matches in the Croatian First Division and matches of the Croatian Cup. We held detailed seminars on VAR for media, coaches and players, and we hope that the introduction of VAR will proceed as smoothly as possible. If we manage to improve referee decision-making in key moments in the game, we’ll have done a great thing,” said Kulusic.

VAR is intended to assist referees in four main areas: goals, penalties, red cards and mistaken identity.

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