JOHANNESBURG – The third vice-president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Danny Jordaan, has called on the continent to train more Video Assistant Referees (VAR) to level the playing field.
The introduction of VAR in major competitions has ironically caused controversy even though its introduction was to eliminate controversy by ensuring that the right decisions are made.
VAR has been slammed by traditionalists who claim that it’s going to kill the passion in football. But the criticism from Africa has been different, with many Africans feeling that the system is against them due to the calls that have gone against teams from the continent in the men’s and women’s World Cup.
CAF introduced VAR for the first time in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt.
But its introduction only started at the quarter-final stage of the tournament.
“The one thing about the introduction of VAR that’s funny is that there continues to be controversy in spite of VAR.
“If you look at the VAR decisions in Russia, (there was controversy) and it happens to be African teams who had decisions against them because of VAR,” Jordaan, who is also the South African Football Association (Safa) president, said.
“Those teams complained. And secondly you look at the VAR application in the Women’s World Cup, where South Africa was leading Spain 1-0 and were in a good position, and then there were two VAR decisions that went against South Africa including a penalty.
“That changed the match and possibly our fortunes in the tournament.
“One of the difficulties is you always say that the referee must be neutral, and therefore if a team from Africa plays a team from Europe, the referee can’t be from Europe.
Jordaan continued: “But behind the screen, sitting in front of the VAR screen are VAR referees from Europe. The question of the neutrality of the decision-makers on the field or in VAR must not be compromised. We have to look at that.
“The problem that we have on the African continent is that I don’t think that we have trained enough VAR referees to assist behind the monitors.
“That is why we couldn’t introduce VAR on all the matches (in the Afcon).
“But I also don’t know if we will have universal use of VAR in the whole of the continent because there is also an infrastructure element that must be solved.”
The introduction of VAR was not the only innovation about this year’s Afcon.
The tournament featured an expanded 24 teams and it moved to June and July for the first time.