Football: Uefa cuts 15 seconds off VAR reviews in the Champions League

ZURICH – Uefa says it has shaved 15 seconds off the average time it takes for the video assistant referee (VAR) system to correct a decision in the Champions League this season, with the average down to one minute 30 seconds.

The head of Uefa’s referees’ committee Roberto Rosetti said he was very happy with the way the technology had been used in the competition but stressed that it was only for “clear and obvious” mistakes.

The European soccer body said that in 108 playoff round and group stage matches so far, 27 decisions had been corrected by the VAR system, an average of one every four games.

“This shows the quality of the referees’ performances,” said Rosetti.

“In addition, we feel that the time taken to overturn a decision is important. So far this season, the average time for the correction of a decision has been one minute 30 seconds – 15 seconds less than last season.”

The use of VAR in some domestic leagues, particularly England’s Premier League, has been widely criticised with suggestions that the video officials in some countries now have more power than those on the pitch.

Many critics feel that it has gone beyond its original remit with goals being disallowed for the tiniest of infringements such as a player being offside by an armpit.

“I would emphasise once more that – in compliance with its protocol – VAR is only for clear and obvious mistakes, and not for controversial situations,” said Rosetti, emphasising that the official on the pitch should have the final call.

“Football needs good referees above all – match officials with a strong personality on the field of play, who take correct and courageous decisions.”

Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin has been among the critics over the way VAR has been used in some leagues, saying it was changing the character of the sport.

Uefa confirmed that VAR would be used in the knockout stages of the Europa League for the first time this season, and also for the Euro 2020 playoff matches in March as well as the final tournament itself.

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