SAFA Dragging Feet To Frustrate Plans To Introduce VAR Alternative?

Video Assistant Referee
Video Assistant Referee

The South African Football Association (SAFA) and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) could be on a collision course regarding efforts to improve the standard of the refereeing in the country.

There has been a spotlight on the standard of the refereeing dropping recently, with a number of coaches voicing their displeasure.

Soccer Laduma reported in edition 1297 that SAFA have a critical leadership position in the refereeing department that has not been filled since June this year.

Read: New SAFA Vice-Presidents Confirmed

The Siya crew has gathered that the position of chair of the national referees committee (NRC) has been vacant since Natasha Tsichlas, who previous occupied that role, was appointed as one of the three vice presidents to Danny Jordan, who was re-elected in the elections back in June.

There has been a few candidates, who are capable of filling that role, bandied about in the SAFA corridors but the association appears to be in no hurry to make the appointment, according to Siya sources.

Siya sources also expressed concern that the longer it takes for SAFA to find Tsichlas' successor, match officials in the country will have limited accountability.

The delay in this regard could also undermine efforts to speedily improve the standard of the refereeing in the country, as there is talk that FIFA could be approached to approve a proposed on-field review (OFR) system, as an alternative to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

The introduction of the VAR in the PSL has been delayed due to the costs associated with the rollout but according to former referee and TV pundit Ace Ncobo, the OFR system could be the solution, using the broadcasting equipment that already exists.

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"After going through the requisite training, referees can immediately implement OFR using a broadcaster's pitch-side screen. But that would also require production directors in the OB [outside broadcast] trucks to be trained on how to quickly give the referee the required angles," Ncobo told SowetanLive.

"We have the equipment and the expertise to implement OFR right now, without the hefty price tag of a full VAR rollout. With just OFR, a significant percentage of errors can be eliminated."

However, those plans could be compromised without the NRC chair.

FIFA laws that were adopted by it's council in September 2020 insists that each member association appoint an experienced and well versed head of the NRC.

"The referees committee shall be composed only of former match officials (preferably having operated at the top level of their respective domestic competition) with a chairman, a deputy chairman and an adequate number of other members," the document in this regard read.

"They shall not be affiliated to any other clubs, leagues, any other football organisation or another referee organisation (union, membership group, etc.).

"Active match officials shall not be eligible to become members of any referees committee."

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