Asean organisers may deploy VAR at future Suzuki Cup tournaments
The Asean Football Federation (AFF) is exploring the use of video assistant referees (VAR) at future editions of its flagship Suzuki Cup tournament, the regional body's spokesman told The Straits Times on Monday (Dec 27).
It will, as part of its standard operating procedure, conduct a review of this year's competition which will cover areas like event management and broadcasting to technical matters involving match officials and team performance.
The spokesman added that for VAR, the AFF "will discuss this matter with our stakeholders including our members associations before making a considered decision".
The use of VAR in assisting match officials to cut down on mistakes has been raised on several occasions during the month-long competition hosted in Singapore.
In the second leg of the semi-final clash between Singapore and Indonesia, referee Qasim Matar Ali of Oman made several decisions that were highly debatable on replay.
Among them were a yellow card for Lions defender Safuwan Baharudin despite a clean tackle on his opponent and the failure to rule out Indonesia's second goal for being offside.
In the first leg, Indonesia were also denied a penalty for a foul in the box, with the referee incorrectly awarding a freekick outside the box instead.
Singapore coach Tatsuma Yoshida backed the use of VAR, saying: "The football level in Asean has improved a lot in recent years so I think we should have it.
"But we must understand the cost that comes with it. If we have VAR, our quality of defending especially in the box will also improve because defenders are more focused."
In November, the Football Association of Thailand's secretary-general Patit Supaphong explained why VAR would not be used in Singapore. He said then: "VAR is not just about setting up the device. You need a licence and referees, both on the pitch and in the control rooms, who are familiar with it. Not many referees in Asean are familiar with VAR."
Around South-east Asia, only the Thai league utilises VAR while the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has implemented VAR only from the AFC Champions League quarter-finals onwards and the AFC Cup final for the past two campaigns.
Yoshida was not alone in his support of technology. South Koreans Shin Tae-yong and Park Hang-seo, in charge of Indonesia and Vietnam respectively, have been critical of the level of officiating at the Suzuki Cup.
Defending champions Vietnam were denied a penalty in the closing stages of their first leg 2-0 semi-final defeat, despite the ball striking the hand of a Thai defender in the box.
In his post match interview, Park said: "I have one recommendation for the organisers. Many times, we are having problems with the referees.
"Nowadays, we see all the big tournaments using the VAR. I think this must apply to this tournament because, every time after the game when I'm asked about the referee, I do not know how to answer. It's very difficult.
"This tournament only gets better with each edition with more sponsors, so we must use VAR from the next tournament. This will make it fair for every team."
Lions captain Hariss Harun agreed and noted: "VAR is what most football matches have around the world. If we can have that , we can go with the norm and that would be great because it would improve the whole AFF scene as well.
"Going by the number of controversies, especially in the two semi-finals, it would be a good idea to have it."