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VAR: The technology that burns money in football

24 Aug 2022 | 18:27 | News

expensive cost

The arrival of the 2018 World Cup VAR (Video Assistant Referee), a turning point that changed world football forever.

VAR is all the rage right now

VAR is all the rage right now

Initially, many reviews criticized the video arbitration technique. VAR has even been described as “Slap in the face to long-term paying viewers”as game delays and interruptions affect fans’ live viewing experience.

Over time, influenced by FIFA, the Continental Football Association has also applied VAR to official matches. Since then, the technology has been expanded more and more in national championships.

But not every national football association has VAR enabled. Reason: Operating costs are very high.

Of course, VAR technology in tournaments also varies, depending on the budget. Many federations use 8 super slow motion cameras, the minimum number required by law. The road system allows a delay of up to 2 seconds…

Major tournaments have upgraded camera quality and operating rooms to keep up with the pace of the game. Therefore, the cost of VAR varies from country to country.

The Scottish Premier League has just applied for VAR, costing the team $1.44m (£1.2m; VND33.6bn) per season.

Brazil is also new to using VAR in national championships. Before that, when there was a new draft of video refereeing, most clubs in the samba country were against it.

VAR technology is very expensive

VAR technology is very expensive

At that time, the Brazilian Football Federation announced that the cost of operating VAR was about 6.2 million US dollars per season, and the club had to bear this amount.

When English football first applied VAR technology in the FA Cup, it cost more than $11,000 (£9,251) per game. This is a very high number for a small team. This fee is equal to the prize money for the winning team in Round 4.

In tournaments, low-level Premier League, the amount paid for VAR is as high as $14.74 million per season. This figure is higher than the salary fund of many participating clubs.

When Romanian football laid out its roadmap to put VAR into operation, each club had to pay more than $303,800. That amount is too high for the country’s FA and top teams.

Cost of VAR Asia

VAR technology was soon put into use in Asia, with football leagues in China, Japan, Iran, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Thailand.

VAR referee team works during a football match in Thailand

VAR referee team works during a football match in Thailand

The Korean League Two alone spends around $6,000 per game on VAR, which translates to over $1.2 million per season.

The fee is a big hurdle for second-tier football in Asia, including Vietnam (The V-League is currently ranked 14th in the AFC rating system).

Meanwhile, South Korea’s biggest tournament – the K-League – is equipped with a VAR with 12 cameras (depending on the broadcaster).

The K-League is equipped with a VAR in truck form for easy transport. The average cost per car is about US$176,500 (KRW 200 million; about VND 4.12 billion).

The Thailand Championship requires clubs to cover their own VAR costs. The team spends more than US$2,300 (82,000 baht per game; about 54.9 million VND) per game.

Last year, the Malaysian Football Study used video refereeing technology in Thailand. It is calculated that the cost of installing a VAR in a Chinese Super League stadium is as high as US$150,000. The total cost for 12 yards is $1.8 million.

VAR indoors in the Premier League

VAR indoors in the Premier League

The VAR technology currently used is a product of the Sony Corporation Hawk-Eye. Using mobile vehicles can provide significant cost savings compared to setting up a VAR operations center that can be connected to a remote stadium.

If the V-League applies VAR, the VPF must go through a third party. This also means that the cost will increase a lot.

If V-League applies minimum conditions to deploy VAR, 8 super slow motion cameras per venue; transmission delay up to 2 seconds; full screen, contacts, personnel required; FIFA authorization. Every yard must be equipped with about 15 billion technologies. With 13 teams participating in the 2022 V-League (playing in 9 stadiums), applying VAR would require an initial technology investment of nearly $150 billion. This amount is twice the amount of the V-League 2022 main sponsor.

After the Hang Day game, fans demanded VAR and wanted it to be deployed in the V-League. But where is the money and personnel to bring VAR into the V-League?

After the Hang Day game, fans demanded VAR and wanted it to be deployed in the V-League. But where is the money and personnel to bring VAR into the V-League?

In addition to the technical cost, the application of VAR has also paid a considerable price in the training of referees. A standard VAR room requires 3 participants: referee, assistant and technical analyst.

Cost is not the only barrier to VAR adoption. Before FIFA approves the use of video assistants, referees must undergo rigorous training organized by FIFA.

According to FIFA, not all Vietnamese referees are eligible to work with VAR. This is also the case with many Asian football backgrounds.