As the technology becomes more widespread and available, more soccer leagues and cups adopt the video assistant referee, or VAR. This fifth official works behind the scenes to identify several infractions that may go unnoticed on the field. VAR works to address fouls. That can be a foul in the build-up to a goal or the denial of a clear goal-scoring chance. The technology’s most common use is to decide penalties by analyzing fouls in the goalkeeper’s box.
Despite debuting in the 2010s, VAR has become a widespread component of soccer games. Five of the FIFA confederations use VAR at the international level, with the only exception of OFC, the Oceania Football Confederation. The trend is that those leagues that can afford VAR use the technology. Of course the likes of the Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga, MLS, Liga MX, Brasileirão, J-League and more use a video assistant referee. However, some major competitions still do not use the technology.
VAR has its fair share of critics. Those who are against it say it slows the game down, and it is overly picky on the most minuscule of infractions. For example, handballs in the box draw debate just about every week in the world of soccer. However, supporters of VAR advocate that it keeps the game honest and fair.
If you are in that group that wants to get away from technology in the sport, there are several top competitions that do not use VAR. These include popular leagues and cups across the world, too. Here are some of the biggest ones that avoid VAR.
Leagues and cups around the world without VAR
It is worth noting that VAR is different from goal-line technology. Goal-line technology requires more sensors and cameras. It can instantly determine a goal or no goal. VAR is strictly for fouls and infractions. For example, Major League Soccer is among those leagues that use VAR. However, it does not use goal-line technology. UEFA is the key user of goal-line technology, with seven domestic leagues using it.
Some of the leagues, cups and competitions that still do not use VAR are as follows:
The Premier League is the most popular league in the world. However, the league directly beneath it does not use VAR. In the semifinals and finals of the promotion playoffs, VAR does come into effect. Yet, for the intense 46-game season, there is no VAR. Moreover, the Championship is famous for its physicality, and there is ample talent ready to make the jump to the Premier League.
ENGLISH FA CUP
The FA Cup features all English clubs. Premier League venues hosting FA Cup ties are allowed to use VAR. Still, it is not widespread and required by all clubs. This means if a major Premier League side is playing away to a team that does not have VAR capabilities at their stadium, it cannot ride the benefit of the video assistant referee. The English FA cites cost and infrastructure as two of the main reasons for not making VAR commonplace in the FA Cup.
The Carabao Cup, which only involves the top four leagues in the English pyramid, has a blanket rule of no VAR until the semifinal stage. This provides consistency across matches and prevents some teams from facing a disadvantage.
Women’s Super League
The top women’s division in England does not use VAR. Even though some clubs play games at stadiums traditionally belonging to the men, most of the stadiums in the competition are not designed with the technology in mind. It would be too expensive to add the cameras and the microphones to communicate.
Domestic African leagues
Algeria, Libya and Morocco are the only three African countries that have a domestic league that uses VAR. When it comes to tournaments, only three domestic cups use VAR. Even if the continental cups and international competitions tend to use VAR, the technology is not as prominent in Africa. Much of that is likely attributed to cost, with African leagues lacking the mega funding of those in Europe.
US Open Cup
Those who watched Lionel Messi take on Cincinnati in the US Open Cup will have seen history. That was the first US Open Cup game to use VAR. Organizers approved the use of the technology only for the semifinals and final, just like the Carabao Cup. With lesser-funded teams in the competition, VAR is not sustainable at each ground, so it is not used as a blanket rule.
Early rounds of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying
Even if the ‘octagonal’ portion of World Cup qualifying in North America uses a video assistant referee, some of the earlier qualifying rounds do not use it. Those stadiums are not updated and they do not have the camera requirements to properly implement VAR.
PHOTO: IMAGO & ANP
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