Why not a VAR in qualifying for the CONCACAF World Cup 2022? Clarify the dearth of a video evaluate


Given that the use of the video assistant referee (VAR) has become ubiquitous in professional football, it may come as a surprise to fans that the final round of World Cup qualifiers in the CONCACAF region does not feature a video briefing.

VAR helps troubleshoot clear and obvious errors or serious missed incidents from match officials by using video playback to help make correct decisions. US national team head coach Gregg Berhalter was open about his disappointment at the lack of VAR in qualifying for the CONCACAF World Cup, which gives three automatic starting places to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

“I think it’s a mistake by CONCACAF,” said Berhalter before the USA’s first qualifying game. “I’m going to speak freely and say that because that’s part of the game. I think it’s great that they implemented VAR in Nations League and Gold Cup and it’s disappointing that it’s not part of qualifying. Here it is the modern game “We want to compete with the rest of the world, our region, in terms of quality and technology. And we have to find a way to do it. “

STANDINGS: Updated CONCACAF qualification table, results & highlights

After Mexico were denied a penalty shoot-out in their 1-1 home draw against Canada, manager Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino joined the choir: “To play a World Cup qualification without a VAR is something to criticize.”

The FIFA Regulations for the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers (page 15) state: “FIFA and / or the Confederation, if applicable, may … use a Video Assistant Referee System (VAR).” So it sounds like it’s optional, but the language doesn’t make it clear which organization is responsible for it.

Getty Images

Why is there no VAR in the CONCACAF qualification?

According to CONCACAF, only three of the eight countries participating in the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualification have an established, certified VAR system in their respective nations: the USA, Canada and Mexico. And that’s because the top professional leagues in these countries have taken over and invested in video rating: Liga MX and Major League Soccer.

“The Concacaf region’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers are FIFA games that are subject to FIFA regulations,” CONCACAF said in a September 2 statement explaining the lack of VAR. “A key criterion for the use of VAR in this competition is that the technology is currently available in certified stadiums for the matches of each of the participating associations. In the final round of the FIFA World Cup qualifying of the CONCACAF region, five of the eight competing associations met this Criteria not. “

Whose responsibility is it to take the initiative and invest in the VAR infrastructure in the other countries and venues that don’t currently exist? Should it be each country’s league or football association? CONCACAF? Or maybe FIFA? The world governing body FIFA has not yet responded to this question from Sporting News, but here is what happens in some other regions when it comes to VAR in World Cup qualifying:

Europe (UEFA): The executive committee of the European umbrella organization decided in July 2021 that all remaining qualifiers use VAR after starting the competition without it. UEFA organized the implementation with the help of VAR vehicles.

South America (CONMEBOL): More than a year before UEFA, the South American association made the decision to use VAR for qualification. The travel expenses of the referees will be covered by FIFA, while CONMEBOL will pay for the technology.

Asia (AFC): The Asian Confederation implemented VAR for their final round of World Cup qualification in 2022.

Getty Images

VAR in CONCACAF competitions

CONCACAF first employed VAR in 2021, introducing them to some of the high profile competitions it organizes and oversees – the 2021 Gold Cup, the 2021 Nations League Final Four, and the 2021 Champions League semi-finals and final. These events took place all held in the United States or Mexico where VAR technology exists.

In March 2021, the organization also hosted VAR training in Costa Rica for a new pool of 22 referees from across the CONCACAF region.

VAR has been in the global pro ranks for several years and was officially added to the rules of the game in 2018. That was a year after Australia’s A-League and Major League Soccer (US & Canada) officially adopted it. The English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League joined the VAR party in the 2019/20 season.

The first World Cup competitions to use video review were the 2018 Men’s World Cup and the 2019 Women’s World Cup.