Southern Times Writer
Tshwane – The decision by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to use the video assistant referee (VAR) in the semi-finals and finals of an interclub continental competition signals intentions to widen the use of a technology-driven approach to officiating.
VAR was used in Cairo, Egypt during the semi-finals of the inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League; featuring Hasaacas Ladies (Ghana), Malabo Queens (Equatorial Guinea), Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa), and ASAFAR (Morocco).
The technology allows referees to be guided by video replays to enhance the accuracy of their decisions, and it was also used in the final of the Women’s Champions League on November 19.
The timing of CAF’s decision to use VAR during the decisive stages of the tournament in Egypt suggests the continental mother body could be under pressure to roll out the technology in World Cup and African Nations Cup qualifiers following questionable decisions by referees at these levels.
A controversial penalty awarded to the Black Stars of Ghana by Senegalese referee Maguette Ndiaye during a decisive 2022 World Cup qualifier against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana on November 14 is a case in point.
The South African Football Association (Safa) and some neutrals feel that the penalty – which resulted in a 1–0 victory for the Back Stars and secured them a place in the knockout stages of the qualifiers at the expense of Bafana – was incorrectly awarded by Ndiaye.
Safa have since lodged a complaint with world football governing body Fifa for that decision to be reviewed in a last gasp effort to save what for now remains a shattered 2022 world cup dream.
Video footage of the action leading up to Ndiaye’s decision to award Ghana the spotkick – which went viral in South Africa soon after the match – show Black Stars midfielder Daniel Amartey going down in the penalty area under either little or no contact at all.
“We are disturbed by these actions and we cannot let it disturb the players when we have a chance to challenge it,” Safa chief executive officer Tebogo Motlanthe, who is at the forefront of lobbying Fifa to set aside the results of that match, said.
“We feel very robbed. It is not the isolated incident of a penalty, there were a lot of questionable decisions,” Motlanthe added.
Whether Fifa orders a replay of the match or not, there is a strong feeling among stakeholders in African football that the introduction of VAR during CAF qualifiers is now overdue. Fifa officially approved the use of VAR for the 2018 World Cup and a total of 335 indents were