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AFC's VAR decision correct, says Pierluigi Collina

Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Pierluggi Collina

Abu Dhabi: When legendary Italian match official Pierluigi Collina speaks about refereeing, everyone has to listen.

Collina was in capital of the United Arab Emirates during the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 group stage as part of the preparation for the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system from the competition's quarter-finals - a decision he feels is correct.

"It is a wise decision as far as I am concerned to introduce VAR at the quarter-final stage because this is line with the pool of qualified referees that are available. The referees need to have the VAR license from IFAB (International Football Association Board)," said Collina in an interview with local media.

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"Working with video technology requires not only the training of the person standing in front of the screen in the Video Operations Room (VOR), but also the training of the referees’ team in the stadium so they know how to interact with the VAR team and how to use the technology effectively."

He added: "We spent a year and a half preparing the referees for the FIFA World Cup to deal with video technology. There were only a few weeks between the decision being taken to use VAR and the start of the AFC Asian Cup so to use the VAR for the whole tournament would have been too risky."

As for the possibility of the AFC recruiting other referees from other continents, Collina said: "It is not logical to bring referees from Europe or Africa for VAR. It's not going to be effective. All the other Continental federations rely on their referees to run their championships and in this way, we can develop the talent of referees in Asia.

"In Asia and CONCACAF there is the added bonus of an MoU which allows knowledge sharing and experience between the two Confederations and I am glad to see that working here in the UAE.

"The AFC has enough qualified referees for this tournament and I think that the level of refereeing has been good in this tournament so far, while it is true that there are mistakes that happens in all the major championships. There are very few matches without mistakes."

He concluded: "I must thank the AFC and the AFC Referees Committee as well as the referees' administration. headed by Shamsul Maidin, and his colleagues for their desire to raise the standards of refereeing in Asia.

"We are all very committed to improving the level of match officials worldwide, and the AFC is doing everything they can to prepare the referees for this tournament and to help their officials reach the highest possible level."

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