Brazilian VAR: First impressions

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Copa Continental do Brasil‘s quarter-finals first legs were a milestone for Brazilian and South American football. The four clashes marked the debut of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system in a domestic tournament in the continent.

Newbie VAR came to action at the end of July. Referees received information but decided to not review their decisions on Santos-Cruzeiro and Corinthians-Chapecoense.

Few days later it had more action. The last game of the round featured first ever VAR decision in Brazil. In the second half of BahiaPalmeiras draw, Verdao’s winger Arthur suffered a fault in the penalty area. Anderson Daronco whistled penalty then sent off homeside midfielder Gregore.

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Alerted by VAR team, Daronco resorted to the screen to cancel the red card according to the latest International Football Association Board recommendations. But only 6 minutes and 4 seconds later. Only then the captain Bruno Henrique finally executed and wasted the penalty kick opportunity for the Paulistas.

A few minutes later, the former Alavés striker Deyverson jumps to the ball with tricolor fullback Mena, who drops him down bleeding. This time VAR alerts the referee by audio that Deyverson moved his elbow to hit Chilean’s eyebrow. The forward was sent off 42 seconds later. However, he took him 3 more minutes to leave the field.

Two correct decisions. Good enough for its a first time. VAR helped to set right to the wrong decisions, such as in red card incidents.

The point is: six minutes is too much compared to VAR system used this summer in FIFA World Cup. The video-based decisions in Russia took an 80 seconds average.

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It gets worse considering that 9 minutes in the additional time awarded by the referee are equivalent only to the decision-making process and the sent out player, who refused to go to the locker room. Lack of time lost with substitutions, medical attention and other interruptions.

Further we have some structural questions. Brazilian version of VAR is considered lean. Only 14 to 16 cameras are used to reduce expenses. In the World Cup were 33 to 35 cameras.

The Copa Continental system costs 11,7 thousand euros per game, according to journalist Rodrigo Mattos. The value is the same offered to clubs by the Brazilian Football Confederation at the beginning of the year. The proposal was that the home team should bear the operating expenses in each game of the present edition of Brasileirao Assaí Serie A.

At first, CBF would pay to have the VAR in the national cup, which in 2018 will yield a record reward up to 15,6 million euros. The champion also guarantees a place in the next Conmebol Libertadores Bridgestone group stage.

Announced at the last minute, the sponsorship deal with SEMP TCL covered the system’s 163,2 thousand euros budget for the 14 matches in which it will be used. Brazilian-Chinese TV sets other devices in a joint venture in which sponsors already refereeing in CBF tournaments. They also activated the World Cup period with ad campaigns starred by Paris Saint Germain and Selecao Neymar Jr.

Another issue is the images used by the system. All footage is generated by Globo and Fox Sports. The broadcasters are owners of the rights of transmission.

“Do you use the transmission cameras? Are they all? What if the VAR does not have a take and the transmission shows the error? Let’s wait. To conclude: the difference with FIFA and leagues is that there they generate the images. Here is not the CBF but a broadcaster.”, questions former FIFA referee and ESPN Brasil analyst, Sálvio Spínola (via Lance).

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