The arrival of VAR (video assistant referee) in Spanish football is closer than ever. The Spanish Football Federation and La Liga have taken the first step by gaining the approval of the International Football Association Board to implement the technology in the Primera División from the start of next season.
From last week, referees and assistants in the first division have begun a phase of 'off-line' technical training, that includes instruction on how to use VAR, practice in simulators and video training. Both organisations have named the team who will be behind implementing the new technology, which includes former international referee Carlos Velasco Carballo as director of the project; Sergio Sánchez Castañer as head of technology and television and Carlos Clos Gómez as refereeing instructor.
It has been agreed that the Spanish VOR (video operation room) will be located in the Ciudad del Fútbol de Las Rozas in Madrid. The provider of the technology will be Mediapro, which has extensive experience in the development of VAR for international competitions. La Liga will supply the funds for the implementation and development of the technology.
VAR is currently still in an experimental stage in several competitions around the world, including FIFA tournaments, and will be used in the World Cup in Russia next summer. It allows a referee to communicate with a video assistant, who can clarify the outcome of four situations: shots on goal, penalty decisions, red cards and confusion surrounding a player's identity. However, the final decision is always down to the referee on the pitch. The President of La Liga, Javier Tebas, has expressed his hope that VAR “will help to make the outcomes of matches more fair”.