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La Liga to bring in VAR for 2018/19 season

Video officiating to arrive in Spanish club soccer’s top tier following IFAB ratification.

by Elena Holmes

La Liga to bring in VAR for 2018/19 season

La Liga, the organising body of the top two club soccer leagues in Spain, has confirmed plans to introduce the video assistant referee (VAR) system into its top division.

The announcement was made before the sport’s rule-making body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), formally ratified the use of the technology on a permanent basis at a meeting in the Swiss city of Zurich on Saturday.

In a statement, La Liga said it had agreed with the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to utilise the technology, and that the video operations centre for VAR will be located in the RFEF’s Ciudad del Fútbol complex located outside Madrid.

The Mediapro agency will deliver the technology behind the system, with La Liga to cover the cost of implementing it. 

Trials of the technology have taken place across Europe this season, including in Germany’s Bundesliga, France’s Ligue 1, Italy’s Serie A and England’s domestic cup competitions, the FA Cup and Carabao Cup. However, it will be making its debut in La Liga next season.

Before making their decision, members of IFAB were presented with the results of independent analysis of the use of VARs conducted by Belgian university KU Leuven since March 2016.

Gianni Infantino, president of Fifa, said that the final decision on the use of VAR at this summer’s World Cup national team tournament in Russia would be taken at the next council meeting in Colombia on 16th March. He added that he was “very positive about VAR”.

In January, Fifa said that VAR was poised to be used at the 2018 Fifa World Cup, announcing that it was in talks with potential sponsors for the initiative.

The move came after Fifa said the IFAB was encouraged by the ‘positive and thorough results’ of the VAR experiment.

Despite IFAB’s approval, trials of VAR across Europe have not been without controversy. In the latest of a series of incidents, Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino said the system had produced a first half that “was a little bit embarrassing for everyone” after it had intervened to disallow a penalty scored by his team in their 6-1 FA Cup replay win over third-tier team Rochdale last Wednesday.