New Straits Times


But prohibitiv­e cost of installing such technology has put off FAM from adopting it


AMAJORITY of MLeague coaches polled by NSTP Sport came out in favour of the use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology even though its implementa­tion in Malaysia may be several years away.

On Saturday, the Internatio­nal Football Associatio­n Board (IFAB) approved VAR for use at the World Cup in Russia in June and July but the prohibitiv­e cost of installing the technology has dissuaded the FA of Malaysia (FAM) from adopting it in the near future.

FAM referees committee chairman Subkhiddin Salleh has said that an investment of up to RM24 million is required for the technology’s implementa­tion here, leading to FAM to delay using VAR for at least another three years.

But that has not stopped MLeague coaches from voicing their support for VAR, which is designed to reduce errors committed by referees though video replays.

Perak’s Mehmet Durakovic, Felda United’s B. Sathianath­an, Kuala Lumpur’s Fabio Maciel and Negri Sembilan’s Azraai Khor Abdullah all favour VAR with Terengganu’s Irfan Bakti Abu Salim the lone dissenting voice.

Those in favour generally believe the technology will help improve decision-making and reduce on-pitch errors.

“Everyone makes mistakes and if the decision is right, then it’s right,” said Australian Durakovic. “Referees don’t always see everything so I’m in support of video technology as long as it does not hold up the game too much.”

Former national coach Sathianath­an, who has led Premier League leaders Felda to a 100 per cent record in all league and cup games this season, said football is now too fast for the human eye to follow.

“The pace of modern football has increased and referees are only human and they struggle to cope with it,” he said.

“The VAR cameras will be able to capture what the referees miss.

“Otherwise, when a goal is wrongly disallowed or allowed then the referee will only be remembered for his mistake.”

One criticism of VAR which has been trialled in England, Germany and Italy has been the amount of time it takes for the video referee to reach a decision.

But Sathiantha­n welcomed the break in play, saying: “Because of how fast football is played, the breaks will be good. It will definitely make the game interestin­g.”

Azraai, recently appointed as Negri coach, said the system will create an even playing field, a view which Maciel agreed with.

“If it’s for the betterment of the game then it’s good,” said Azraai.

“No referee can be perfect and errors will happen but if the technology is there, then why not use it. It will be fair to both teams.”

Irfan, however, is a stickler for tradition and believes the referee on the pitch should be the sole arbiter of decisions without referring to technology.

“People always complain whether a goal is scored or not but that’s what makes football exciting,” he said. “I don’t agree with using tecnology.

“It will lead to time-wasting and goes against tradition. I’m happy with referees making decisions in a split second even if they make a mistake.”

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