Following a few years of delay and debate, local football authorities have finally confirmed that the VAR (video assistant referee) system will be introduced into Argentina’s top flight this April.
The Argentine Football Association (AFA) said this week that VAR will be applied from the eighth round of fixtures of the Copa de la Liga Profesional season, "with the aim of creating a more transparent and fairer football," according to former referee Federico Beligoy, the confederation's national director of refereeing.
In making the announcement, AFA officials opened up its new high-tech operations centre – the Sala de Operaciones de Video (or VOR, ‘Video Operations Room’ in English) – at Ezeiza to the press, showing off the facilities where vital decisions will be made and reviewed.
"We have been working on this project for more than two-and-a-half years. And today, the day has arrived to crystallise all this work that we have been developing. I am sure that this is going to make football more transparent, in sporting terms," said Beligoy.
AFA has been keen on incorporating VAR into the top flight for some time, but implementation of the system has been delayed, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic and also because of the cost – around 400,000 pesos (approx US$3,500 at the official exchange rate) per match, a figure that will be covered be sponsors.
"When you start something new, it's not easy, but over time, it gets better. We at FIFA are very happy to see one of the world’s most football-loving countries joining this initiative. We know that football is a religion here," said Pierluigi Collina, the famous Italian former referee and chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee.
While there will be a VAR screen at every stadium, the base of the operation will be at AFA’s Ezeiza headquarters in Buenos Aires Province, where the national team usually trains. The football association plans to begin hosting VAR training sessions for referees from all over the continent in the coming months.
"Being here, I feel like I'm driving a Ferrari for the first time. But like any Ferrari, you have to know how to drive it, and every apprenticeship has its process – it's not easy," said former referee Massimo Busacca, the head of FIFA's refereeing department.
VAR will debut in Argentina on the first weekend in April, with 14 matches on the fixture list.