Interview with Wilson Seneme, Chairman of the CONMEBOL Referees Committee

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A fairer and more transparent football, with constant training for the referees of CONMEBOL, is what the South American Football Confederation is looking for with the VAR tool, which will be present at the CONMEBOL Copa América Brazil 2019 from the first meeting.

CONMEBOL is a pioneer in the implementation of VAR, and in the future, the South American Leagues are expected to have this tool, therefore, in an interview with the CONMEBOL Copa América Brazil 2019, the President of the CONMEBOL Referees Committee, Wilson Seneme, explained the importance of the VAR tool in the oldest tournament in the world and in South American football.

What is the importance of the CONMEBOL Copa América Brazil 2019 going to have from start to finish with the VAR?

The Copa América is the main CONMEBOL tournament, having the VAR in all its matches elevates this event to the highest level of international competitions, guaranteeing greater justice and transparency.

The CONMEBOL is a pioneer in the use of technology, what advantages does this bring to South American football?

We apply this tool since 2017, that is, we go in the third consecutive year. CONMEBOL is the first Continental Confederation that implements the VAR. The experience of previous years gives our referees a greater understanding of how to use it in the best way, also makes South American football is adapted to the use of technology to a higher level of acceptance and credibility.

In which specific situations can the VAR intervene?

The VAR can be used in the following situations and always with the final decision of the central referee:

1. Situations of GOALS.
2. RED DIRECT card incidents.
3. Decisions in situations of PENALTIES.
4. Confusion of IDENTITY on the cards.

How are the South American referees trained in VAR?

In order to comply with the requirements of the International Football Association Board, the body that controls the implementation of the VAR, a theoretical, practical training process with real matches is necessary. CONMEBOL now has approximately 70 international referees who were trained during three seminars in previous years. For 2019 we have a new seminar prior to the CONMEBOL Copa América to train the referees called.

In 2019 the C.E.T.A (Technological Arbitration Training Center) will be inaugurated at the head office of CONMEBOL. This building will have the technological equipment to train and train the referees, instructors and operators where the Member Associations will also benefit for the development of the South American arbitration.

Which are the implications of the International Board new rules in the implementation of the VAR in the CONMEBOL Copa América?

The changes in the rules of the game for 2019 that we will apply in the CONMEBOL Copa América were made with the spirit of adapting the game not only for a faster and more modern football, but also for a better adaptation to the use of the VAR tool. The CONMEBOL refereeing department has already prepared a material and will promote technical talks to all participating CONMEBOL Copa America National teams, as well as to a wide dissemination for all football fans. (Read here: The new rules in football that will be seen in the CONMEBOL Copa América).

What can be said to those who expect the VAR to be 100% accurate?

The VAR is a tool to assist the central referee, that is, the referee will always accept, interpret and decide how and when to use the tool. It is also very important to remember that the VAR is only for the four situations foreseen in the IFAB protocol (goals, red cards, penalties and identity confusion of a card), against a CLEAR MISTAKE, OBVIOUS and MANIFEST. The interpretative situations will continue in accordance with the interpretations that the referee has on the court.

Which is the preparation of the CONMEBOL in case the technology fails in specific cases, for example, failures in the screens or cameras used in the VAR?

The IFAB protocol establishes that when there is a loss of television signal or communication, the referee informs the teams that from this moment the game is developed without the tool and without affecting its natural flow. The risk matrix of CONMEBOL includes in its technology provision contract “backup” or backup, for systems, in case of screen failure and communication.

What the VAR is not able to do?

The tool cannot be used in situations of arbitrator interpretations when there is no clear and obvious obvious error. Also in all cases that are not provided for in the protocol, such as expulsion by double reprimand, errors in throw-in, corner kick.

Although VAR is relatively new, what is the future for this technology in sports?

Currently, CONMEBOL’s priority is to support the development of the VAR system in the 10 member countries. We think that in the future all the matches of the main South American leagues will have the use of this technology and in this way we will have a fairer and more transparent football.

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