VAR in the PSL: Unanswered questions as Safa seeks to expedite its introduction

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VAR at Africa Cup of Nations.
The South African FA is keen to start using the technology but there exist challenges that might hold its introduction back.

Recently-appointed Safa referees committee chairperson Victor Gomes has made implementation of VAR in the PSL his top priority.

Gomes feels South Africa is ready for VAR with what is needed being the right structures and training of match officials.

There have been calls for South Africa to introduce VAR following questionable calls by referees with coaches and fans alike left disappointed.

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Safa seems to have listened going by the sentiments of Gomes, who was installed after retiring following the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

‘’It is not a question of whether it will happen but it is now a question of when will we kick-start the process,’’ said Gomes as quoted on the Safa website.

Victor Gomes and Philip Ndlondlo.

His sentiments come just weeks after Safa head of referees Abdul Ebrahim, said the country is "not far away" from implementing the technology.

"I briefly had discussions with our CEO [Tebogo Motlanthe], and I had brief discussions with the PSL CEO [Mato Madlala]. It's now the association that has to decide how soon we can do this,” Ebrahim told News24 last month.

"I have always said that we have about 60 to 70 percent of the infrastructure in place."

While it is encouraging, it flies in the face of what Madlala said two years ago that the PSL will find it difficult to implement VAR since nearly all teams do not own the stadiums.

Her fears were that it would be difficult to install cameras at the stadiums since they are not owned by the clubs, a matter that is yet to be resolved to date.

Victor Gomes sends off a player.

There is also the issue of whether the cameras would be centralised or decentralised, plus the matter of cost, as the equipment will require a huge outlay to acquire, while it would also need highly-skilled personnel to operate.

South Africa still does not have the capacity even though Safa have been in contact with Caf and Fifa to get technical support from top global officials within the refereeing world to help expedite the VAR process.

Pierluigi Collina.

Retired Italian referee Pierluigi Collina, who is now Fifa’s referees committee chairman, has agreed to visit South Africa and help set up the VAR structures and while the prospect looks exciting, it is still too early to judge how soon it will be used in the PSL and its effectiveness given the challenges.