Zambia: The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system will be introduced in COSAFA competitions for the first time, starting with the HOLLYWOODBETS COSAFA Women’s Championship that will be played in Gauteng from October 4-15.
COSAFA will provide VAR at the semifinal stage of the competition, with plans to introduce the technology in all tournaments.
“COSAFA has had the will to have the VAR project at our tournaments, and finally, it has arrived. Within the referees in our region, we have already registered approved officials for VAR,” COSAFA Referees Manager Felix Tangawarima said on the sidelines of a five-day all-female course for VAR training for referees.
“For a referee to be licenced, they must have had 25 hours of training. We will have done a five-day preparatory course simply because a number are encountering VAR for the first time,” Tangawarima said.
The course includes practical and theory, which project leader and FIFA representative Mike van der Roest are overseeing. Zambian referee Diana Chikotesha is among the participants at the course.
“Though we will only use VAR ‘live’ for the semifinals, third-place play-off and final, we will be doing it offline as a training exercise before that during the tournament. So, the referees will use it as if it has an impact on the game, but obviously, that is just for training purposes until we get to the semifinals,” Tangawarima explained.
“It is important we train our officials in the use of VAR because CAF and FIFA are looking for licensed officials, and we don’t want our referees from the region to be left out. We want them to be on the same footing as their peers across the continent.”
Tangawarima added that COSAFA will be one of the first regions to implement VAR for its tournaments, adding to some North African countries who have already incorporated it into the game.
“VAR is there and within the laws of the game, and it is not going anywhere, so it is important to us as a region to embrace it. In the future, if you want to go to a World Cup, you will have to have practised with VAR,” Tangawarima said.
“FIFA will come any day and say every game will be VAR, so we urge our member associations to get ready for that. We are so grateful to the COSAFA executive and secretariat for giving our referees this opportunity. The support we have had, which includes from FIFA and CAF, to help us has been fantastic. Everyone is rallying behind this project, which will change the face of COSAFA.”