UEFA pushes VAR early for Champions League 2018/19

UEFA executives have announced that the governing body of European football will introduce ‘Video Assistant Referees – VAR’ technology for its flagship UEFA Champions League competition, beginning at the round-of-16 knockout stages from 16 February 2019.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin confirmed the mandatory VAR Champions League enforcement at yesterday’s ‘special meeting of the UEFA Executive Committee’ hosted in Dublin.

Governing European football competitions, UEFA’s executive had stated last September that it would introduce mandatory VAR for its Champions League match-days, starting season 2019/2020.

Nevertheless, having reviewed proposals, Ceferin and UEFA officials have decided to push early with VAR, stating that the controversial technology’s capacities proven during World Cup Russia 2018.

“We are ready to use VAR earlier than initially planned and we are convinced that it will be beneficial for our competitions as it will provide valuable help to match officials and will reduce incorrect decisions.” Ceferin detailed in a statement to media.

Fully utilised during Russia 2018, VAR disrupted many match-day dynamics for football’s most prestigious tournament, with bookmaker markets having to adjust to video replay time-delays, goals allowed/nullified and retrospective red-cards for off the ball incidents.

Furthermore, VAR saw the number of penalty kicks awarded reach a record 29 figure (22 scored) with various bookmakers capping penalty markets.

Remaining a controversial topic, critics of VAR state that the technology introduced during a nascent phase for referees, who despite FIFA workshops needed time to adjust and learn how to implement VAR decisions in live match environments.

Put simply for critics’ VAR; the technology had failed in its mission statement to end football controversies and bad decisions.