First FIFA VAR course for Member Associations held

  • First VAR course for member associations’ instructors held at the Home of FIFA

  • VAR enjoyed a successful World Cup in Russia

  • Course featured hands-on exercises, VAR simulator sessions and practical on-field training

After the success of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, Member Associations (MAs) across the globe have been expressing their interest. To meet the demand, FIFA have taken two important steps: holding the first-ever VAR instructor course in Madrid in early October and the first VAR course for member association instructors in Zurich this week.

“We were literally bombarded with requests from member associations that want to implement VAR in their domestic leagues,” said Pierluigi Collina, Chairman of FIFA’s Referees Committee. “The main challenge we face is the lack of people to instruct match officials all over the world.

“We are trying to create the support requested by the MAs and we are pleased to provide this support. We are creating a panel of instructors, who can give their expertise, their knowledge instructing the match officials, the video match officials and the referees on the field of play in their member associations.”

At the Home of FIFA, more than 20 MA representatives were given guidance on how to train VARs in their respective competitions. The training feeds into the ongoing FIFA /IFAB Implementation Assessment and Approval Programme (IAAP), with refereeing development part of FIFA’s objectives.

In Zurich, attendees enjoyed a detailed breakdown of VAR’s implementation at the World Cup. This was supported by theoretical sessions delving into the four game-changing VAR situations (goal, penalty/no penalty, red card and mistaken identity), practical on-field exercises and VAR simulator sessions. The VAR simulator replicated the Video Operation Room (VOR) from a live match – using clips of past games.

FIFA VAR Instructor Danny Makkelie, who was part of the VAR team at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final, explained the impact and benefits of the training beyond the VOR. “VAR is definitely making me a better referee, as now I’m analysing match situations even more, which helps me as a referee on the field of play,” he said. “I’ve become more aware of various things that can happen during a game.”

The goal is now for the course attendees to be able to pass on their knowledge to referees and assistant referees, allowing them to use the system in their respective competitions. “Referees have to understand that VAR is there to help them,” explained Massimo Busacca, FIFA Refereeing Director. “The goal is still that referees are better at the end of a match because of the technology. The VAR education is one thing but to continue to invest in refereeing and in refereeing development is even more important.

“Now match officials have to learn what a clear mistake is and when the VAR can intervene. We want to see uniformity and consistency around the world. We don’t want to see a member association making its own interpretation of the VAR protocol.

“VAR is here to reduce the mistakes committed by the referees in a match, but VAR will never eliminate them entirely. This week was very important in showing the attendees how to teach future VARs in their leagues and championships in the same way.”