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VAR here to stay, says head of A-League

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22nd October, 2018
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The head of A-League believes the VAR system is working appropriately but wants more full-time referees to keep pace with the sport.

“The VAR has been rolled out worldwide so it’s not going anywhere,” A-League head Greg O’Rourke told SEN radio on Monday.

VAR controversies have dominated the wash-up of the A-League’s opening round.

O’Rourke acknowledged the “system failed” in last season’s grand final when the only goal of the match, scored by Melbourne Victory’s Kosta Barbarouses against Newcastle, came when technology failed to identify an offside in the build-up.

“But the system now is working as designed,” O’Rourke said.

“If you take the Central Coast Mariners v Brisbane Roar game, there were three interventions by the VAR, all three of those were for offside, all three of those were correct.

“But they still get caught up in this conversation about VAR intervention.

“In the Melbourne derby, that was not VAR’s intervention, that was the referee making the mistake.”

A contentious penalty was awarded to Melbourne City in its 2-1 win against Victory when the referee sought video assistance to determine whether a foul had been committed in the box.

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But O’Rourke said rather than focus on VAR, there was a need to find funding for more full-time referees in the A-League to consistently get calls correct.

“All our players train six days a week, one or two sessions a day,” he said.

“We have some referees that have full-time jobs, nine-to-five or longer, and then we’re asking them to back up on the weekend.

“If you’re asking for my solution, I think the question has to be do we need some more full-time referees to stick with the pace and with the focus that is required in full-time sport.”

Sydney FC stalwart Alex Wilkinson, a supporter of VAR, said players and the public needed more education on the system.

“The public as well are a little bit confused when it’s being used and how it’s being used,” Wilkinson told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

“So maybe the explanation needs to be a little bit broader in terms of going out to the public so they do understand when it can and can’t be used … it might help people understand it a little bit better.

“I still believe the VAR is a good thing.

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“I think it’s there in big games and big moments to make sure there’s no errors and I guess they are still sort of tweaking how we use it.”