Tuesday, 18/10/2022 08:59

THE LOCAL GAME: VAR rears its ugly head in Việt Nam, again

Could VAR soon be in use in the V.League 1? More importantly, should it? Photo courtesy of

by Peter Cowan

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but VAR is coming to Việt Nam. Apparently.

VAR, or video assistant referee, is supposedly on the way to the V.League 1 “soon” at a hefty price tag of VNĐ70 billion (around US$3 million) to install the controversial officiating technology.

If we’re to take the Việt Nam Professional Football Joint Stock Company (VPF) at their word, VAR could be in play as soon as next year.

Of course, that same body said in 2019 that VAR would be used in Việt Nam that year, and that failed to materialise, and in the three years since the league has gone without, which seems odd given the VPF said it would have the technology in 2019.

Whether you believe the VPF will actually follow through this time or not, you should be hoping for a repeat of the VPF’s 2019 pledge then renege.

I say that not because the technology has sucked a lot of the passion out of football and failed to achieve its stated aim of reducing the number of controversial refereeing decisions.

No, what’s giving me cause for concern is the price tag and not because it seems too expensive – but VNĐ70 billion looks on the low side.

A cursory look at what other leagues around the world are paying for VAR tech reveals that the figure quoted above could be per season, not a one-off cost.

In Brazil, clubs previously rejected bringing in VAR due to estimated costs of more than $6 million per season, though VAR is now in use in the country. The technology reportedly costs the Scottish top flight about £1.2m ($1.35 million) per season.

If VNĐ70 billion is for installation alone, how much will VAR cost to run each year? And if VNĐ70 billion is on the cheap side, what quality of technology can we expect to be employed? As we’ve seen in leagues elsewhere, this is not an area where it pays to cut corners.

If teams are expected to contribute to what looks like it will be an ongoing cost, that’s another problem, as we’ve seen how strapped for cash some clubs are.

But perhaps the most salient point is this – wouldn’t that money be better spent elsewhere?

I imagine VNĐ70 billion would go a long way to upgrading some of the frankly shocking stadia around the league.

Or it could be spent on training clubs and stadium management to better manage large crowds, as we’ve seen several potentially dangerously overcrowded grounds in recent years.

I could list hundreds of different ways VNĐ70 billion could improve the V.League 1, whereas I don’t think anyone can make the argument VAR has improved any league. VNS

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