Brazilian clubs reject VAR amid cost concerns

Clubs from Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A, the top division of Brazilian club football, have rejected the planned implementation of the video assistant referee (VAR) system in the league amid concerns over its cost.

The announcement was made following a technical meeting at the headquarters of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF). The CBF had initially promised that VAR would be in place in some Serie A matches following a controversial incident during a game in September. Corinthians defeated Vasco da Gama 1-0 through a goal scored by Jo (pictured), who appeared to help the ball into the net with his arm.

The CBF did not disclose the reason behind the decision not to introduce VAR for the 2018 Serie A season, but multiple reports have cited cost. GlobeEsporte.com said the CBF wanted clubs to pay for the system, with an estimated cost of R$20m (€5.1m/$6.2m) over a season. Twelve clubs were reported to have voted against VAR, with seven in favour and one abstention.

Vasco president Alexandre Campello said: “This was a decision of the majority, at high cost to the clubs. For each club, (the video referee) would cost R$500,000 just for the second round, or R$1m for the entire championship. We decided to wait to observe the (Fifa) World Cup and maybe implement in the Brasileiro next year.”

The VAR system is set to be used at a World Cup for the first time in Russia later this year, with world football’s governing body in talks with potential sponsors for the initiative. The development came after the annual business meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the sport’s rule-making body, at Fifa headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland last month.

In a statement, Fifa said the IFAB was encouraged by the “positive and thorough results” of the VAR experiment and agreed that a proposal to ensure consistency in using VAR would be made for approval at the IFAB annual general meeting in Zurich on March 3.

VAR is used to determine contentious issues such as the award of goals and penalties, decisions over direct red cards and cases of mistaken identity. Leagues that use the extra technology feature a fifth match official who studies video footage of an incident before a decision is reached by the referee.

The CBF has said it will instead foot the cost of implementing VAR for some matches during the latter stages of this season’s Copa do Brasil. In other news from the meeting, the CBF has permitted clubs to play up to five ‘home’ games in states outside their own. This will exclude the final five rounds of the season, with clubs often generating more revenue through gate receipts by playing matches away from their home stadium.