AFC Asian Cup 2019: All you need to know about VAR to be used from quarterfinals


The AFC Asian Cup 2019 has now entered its fag end and we’re all set for the quarterfinals which commence on Thursday, 24th January. But there’s one huge addition which will be made to the tournament at this stage – the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

Here are a few things you need to know about VAR before we get down with the last-eight action.

First-ever VAR at the Asian Cup

Australia’s Christopher Beath will be the first-ever Video Assistant Referee at the Asian Cup while his two assistants will be Muhammad Taqi Bin Jahari from Singapore and Paolo Valeri from Italy. The trio will oversee the first quarterfinal of the tournament between Vietnam and Japan.

System tested during round-of-16 matches

The VAR system was tested through the course of the round-of-16 matches of the tournament at the four quarterfinal venues – Zayed Sports City Stadium and Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain and the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai.

VAR restricted to four game-altering decisions

– Goal or no goal

Whether there has been a foul in the lead up to the goal by the scoring team OR if there was an offside which the linesman didn’t pick OR if the ball had gone out of the field of play – these will be taken into account by the VAR.

– Penalty decisions

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The VAR will have to keep a special eye on decisions where one of the sides has or has not been awarded a spot kick.

These include – incorrect penalty awarded; a foul inside the box not awarded as a penalty; if the foul was committed inside or outside the box; if the ball had gone outside the field of play before a penalty was awarded; if the penalty-taker or the goalkeeper commits a foul while the spot-kick is being taken and if players from the attacking or defending team who get involved in the play after rebound from the spot-kick haven’t committed a foul while the kick was being taken.

– Red cards

Only direct red cards fall under the consideration of the VAR and not second yellow cards. The direct red offences include – denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity, rash tackle, spitting/biting or other violent actions and use of foul/offensive language.

– Mistaken identity

In case the on-field referee penalises, books or sends off the wrong player, then the VAR can be asked to step in and clarify. In such cases, only the mistake in identity can be looked into by the VAR and not the original decision.

Is VAR’s word final?

No, the VAR will only be used to correct/review the decisions made by the on-field referee only in all the above-mentioned cases. The final word will be of the on-field official.

To put it in a straightforward manner, the VAR is only an extension of the head referee’s on-field assistants.

Every decision is looked at by VAR but the final word is of on-field referee

The VAR will monitor each and every decision taken by the referee, and will inform him/her if a match-altering incident needs to be reviewed. Subsequently, if the referee feels he/she has missed one such incident, they can ask for a VAR review.

Thought the VAR can suggest that a review be taken, it will be the referee’s call whether to go ahead with the review or not. In simpler words, only the referee can initiate a review.

What if there is a failure in the VAR setup?

The match will continue nonetheless, without the VAR assistance – just like the group stage and round of 16 matches of the Asian Cup.