Moving on with the times: VAR in SA Football

Moving on with the times: VAR in SA Football
Peter Shalulile of Mamelodi Sundowns is fouled by Asanele Velebayi of Cape Town Spurs for a penalty during the DStv Premiership 2023/24 football match between Cape Town Spurs and Mamelodi Sundowns at Athlone Stadium on 9 April 2024 ©Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

by Staff Reporter

Friday Apr 12, 2024. 10:00

While the PSL have previously approved the implementation of VAR in all top-flight games, recent developments in matches have proved that South African football are in desperate need of a technological revamp.

When was VAR and Goal line technology introduced into football?

Goal line technology was first implemented in 2014, while it was called into action for the first time during a match between Rotterdam and RKC Waalwyk on the 6th of April.

Since then, the hawk-eye technology has had major success around the world with referees able to make accurate touchline and goal line calls in real time.

Two years later, VAR was introduced into football, which in turn split opinion among teams, coaches and passionate supporters during its embryonic stages. However, despite the controversy that come along with VAR, referees have the opportunity to correct on-field mistakes via replays and second opinions from the video assistant referees.

In its entirety, VAR has proven to be an advancement in the beautiful game as it continues to develop year on year.

The PSL/VAR chat…

While over 55 leagues worldwide are making use of VAR, on field referees remain the only source of authority in South African football.

Last year, it was reported that the South African Football Federation approved the use of VAR in the PSL and in turn, informed FIFA of their plans. However, talk of implementing VAR in South African football subsided rapidly despite fan outrage on a weekly basis.

Every point counts…

The recent DStv Premiership match between Cape Town Spurs and Mamelodi Sundowns at the Athlone Stadium proved why VAR is very much needed in South African football.

Sundowns were awarded a penalty in the 40th minute of the match after Peter Shalulile was brought down on the edge of the Spurs box. To the naked eye of the referee, it appeared as though Shalulile was brought down inside the box.

However, the relegation-threatened Spurs took to their social media handles in posting an image that showed how Shalulile was fouled outside of the 18-yard-area. Sundowns eventually went onto win the game by a 1-0 margin, of which Spurs felt they were hard-done by after the referee’s mishap.

In the bigger scheme of things, a draw might not have hurt Sundowns in their pursuit of the 2023/24 league title given their 13-point gap over second-placed Stellenbosch FC with 10 games left to play. On the other end of the spectrum, Spurs remain five points adrift of a PSL-Relegation play-off spot with seven matches to go.

VAR is needed in SA

African countries such as Morocco, Algeria and Egypt have been making use of VAR in their respective professional leagues. Also, the efficient use of VAR at the recent Africa Cup of Nations showpiece impressed many supporters and pundits alike around the world

In conclusion, VAR can only improve the quality of officiating in the PSL, while the league itself will continue to grow as one of the best on the African continent.

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