For the first time at a UEFA tournament, the Video Assistant Referee, or VAR, will be used.
Starting Wednesday, when Portugal takes on Switzerland in the first UEFA Nations League semifinal, the technology will be available to referees to correct errors made on the pitch involving certain situations: goals, incidents in the penalty area, red cards, and mistaken identity.
Fans will be familiar with the use of VAR from last summer’s World Cup, when it was used throughout the tournament. In the final, France was awarded a penalty just before halftime be referee Nestor Pitana, after the VAR assistant decided there was enough evidence to review the play. Pitana looked at the replay, and awarded the spot kick, which was dispatched by Antoine Griezmann to give the French side a 2-1 lead on the way to a 4-2 victory.
All four head coaches of the teams involved recently spoke to UEFA.com after a briefing in April, and had this to say about the technology, which has been in use in other tournaments for a few years.
“The VAR is a good help to make football fairer and most of the mistakes will be corrected,” Ronald Koeman, the head coach of the Netherlands said. “That of course is a good thing. We must realize, however, that discussions will continue to exist, because you can often interpret actions in multiple ways. I am in favor of the VAR tackling the big, obvious issues only, rather than to search endlessly for potential errors.”
“I am very positive about the introduction of the VAR,” Vladimir Petković, the head coach of Switzerland said. “If we have the technical means to support the referees in their work, we should make the best possible use of them. It is important, however, that in the end it is still man who decides, not a machine.”