Gambian FIFA referee Papa Gassama shares his opinion on VAR technology

Gambian FIFA referee Papa Gassama shares his opinion on VAR technology
Papa Gassama

by Phumzile Ngcatshe

Monday Jun 11, 2018. 17:00

Gambian FIFA referee Papa Gassama has thrown his weight behind the controversial Video Assistant Referee technology, saying it will not eliminate errors by officials.

Gassama is one of the most respected officials in the football fraternity and believes errors can only be reduced, but not eliminated.

Having already experienced the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) at last year's FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, the West African referee will be able to use the technology again at the World Cup in Russia.

Speaking to the BBC website, Gassama said everyone from referees to fans are still learning about how to make the best use of the system.

"We've seen big, big mistakes by referees, and top referees for that matter, but VAR cannot eliminate - but can reduce big mistakes," he told BBC Sport.

"VAR is very advantageous, because it is good for football now. Now, we are in learning process - people have to understood that.

"It is just like a new job: before you understand it, it will take some time. As time goes on, with this new technology, many referees and many VARs will understand better."

The Gambian believes the new technology gives match officials a sense of security when they make big decisions.

He also added that the technology gives officials some relief when it comes to avoiding scandals at big tournaments.

"During the game, without VAR, if an unfortunate situation arises, and you don't have any help, it is very sad," he explained.

"It is like VAR gives you 'life insurance,' it makes you more comfortable as the back-up team is going to help you.

"VAR is a very good tool for referees, because, as a referee, you don't want a scandal or a very big mistake that you will regret.

"That's why, as a point of view, it is very important for the VAR to come as an extra eye, an extra help, because the VAR is also an experienced referee, like you on the pitch, to help in crucial situations.”

Gassama will be joined by five Africans at the global tournament in Russia such as Mehdi Abid Charef from Algeria, Malang Diedhiou of Senegal, Gehad Grisha from Egypt, Janny Sikazwe from Zambia, as well as Ethiopia’s Bamlak Tessema Weyesa.

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