Egypt's head of referees committee Gamal Al-Ghandour said they are working around the clock to implement the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system in the Egyptian Premier League but that there are no guarantees that it could be ready by January as initially scheduled.
“We are working to implement VAR into Egyptian league games starting from the 2nd round, but the procedures take a very long time and there are many approvals needed, especially from the International Football Association Board (IFAB),” Al-Ghandour revealed in an interview with Ahram Online.
Referees have come under stern criticism over the past few seasons and most clubs have requested the implementation of the VAR to avoid obvious mistakes that overshadowed several games.
Head of the Egyptian FA's interim board Amr Al-Ganainy announced on several occasions that he hoped to introduce VAR in the second half of the season, but Al-Ghandour cast doubts over that prospect.
“The whole matter depends on IFAB not the Egyptian football association. We sent our suggested training program to IFAB for approval and then the referees will start their courses under joint trainers from Egypt and IFAB before passing a FIFA test to be licensed," he said.
"The IFAB will determine the training hours and will be verifying that refereeing staff for games are licensed for VAR use."
Al-Ghandour said that the EFA is currently in negotiations with several companies to get the best financial offer for providing the technology but that no deal has been finalized yet, declining to confirm reports that it would cost $4,000 to $6,000 per game.
Relieve a burden
Al-Ghandour, who officiated at the Euro and World Cup, believes that the implementation of the VAR will relieve much pressure on Egyptian referees.
“Egyptian referees will adapt quickly to VAR. The technology mainly helps achieve justice but it also removes some pressures off the referees, which is the case all over the world," he explained.
Despite the fact that the VAR has created some controversy across Europe, especially in the Premier League and Bundesliga, Al-Ghandour believes it is an ongoing process that will help improve the game in Egypt.
“Like any new system, it could take some time to see the success of VAR in Egypt unless the players, technical staffs and fans surprise us with their acceptance of the idea. It will be a happy surprise. They should comply with the new system and accept its decisions," he added.
However, until the implementation of VAR, the head of the referees committee, who was appointed last August, has abolished the use of the Additional assistant referees that were in effect last season.
“By the end of last season a lot of controversy erupted and there have been calls to cancel the process. Surprisingly, 85% of referees requested that we cancel it in a survey I conducted among them," he said.
“As we close on using the VAR, I think it was better to stop that practice especially that VAR’s operating system is totally different."
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