Cosafa gets Video Assistant Referee

Ngero Katua of Namibia in action against Lebogang Ditsele of Botswana at the 2023 Cosafa Cup tournament. File photo

The Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) will roll out the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) at its upcoming tournaments, the regional body said yesterday.

Cosafa said it will “embark on an exciting new era” after acquiring VAR equipment which will be introduced during “the later stages of the men’s senior Cosafa Cup” in June.

The equipment will also be used “as a teaching tool for training purposes for match officials on the continent”.

“After a successful pilot project last year at the Cosafa Women’s Championship, the aim is now to have VAR at all Cosafa events in the future,” Cosafa said in statement.

“But the system will also be used to train referees, which is becoming vital with CAF [Confederation of African Football] and Fifa [International Federation of Football Associations] requiring licensed VAR operators at their events.”

VAR technology has received mixed reviews globally since its introduction in 2012 to automate and improve football decision-making.

A strong proponent of its usage, Cosafa referees manager Felix Tangawarima said Africa football faces being left behind the rest of the world if they do not implement the technology.

“VAR is there within the laws of the game and it is not going anywhere, so it is important for us to embrace it. In the future, if you want to go to a World Cup (as a match official), you will have to have practised with VAR,” Tangawarima said.

“Fifa will come any day and say every game will be VAR, so we urge our member associations at Cosafa to get ready for that. Fifa are looking for licensed officials and we don’t want our referees to be left out.”

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