VAR coming to Zimbabwean football

ZIMBABWE needs to embrace the video assistant referee (VAR) system if local football is to be at par with the rest of the world, top Zimbabwean and African referees instructor Felix Tangawarima has said.

Tangawarima, together with referees fitness trainer Mark Mzengo of Malawi, are presently in the country conducting a FIFA Member Association elite referees and match commissioners’ course.

The record eight-time Zimbabwe Referee of the Year, who handles the technical aspects of training, will also hold another course for “young talent” from November 13 to 17.

“VAR is here to stay. Why am I saying so? It is because it has now been incorporated into the laws of the game,” said Tangawarima, who is also the COSAFA referees’ manager.

“As Zimbabwe, we have to embrace the new technology.

“The consequences of us not taking up this challenge is that, for example, at the Africa Cup of Nations next year, we are going to start from the group stage with VAR, and what does that mean to your referees? It means, if you do not have referees who are trained as VAR, they are not going to the Africa Cup of Nations.

“So, what we have done as a zone, as COSAFA, is, we have actually spearheaded the training of our referees so that they are compliant with the requirements of VAR, and we started with a once-off activity in Zambia.”

VAR has been used at continental tournaments such as the Africa Cup of Nations, CAF Champions League, Confederation Cup and, lately, at the recently held COSAFA Women’s Championship in South Africa.

Last month, FIFA head of development programmes for Africa Solomon Mudege hinted that the world soccer governing body would conduct VAR training for local referees, in conjunction with CAF, from next year.

VAR coming to Zim

MAN ON A MISSION . . . Felix Tangawarima (in red shirt) poses for a picture with local elite referees and match assessors while in the company of the Normalisation Committee leadership — Lincoln Mutasa (in dark suit) and Rosemary Mugadza at ZIFA Village. — Picture: ZIFA media

Tangawarima reiterated that “there is no going back on the use of VAR”.

“I am extremely excited to be back home and to try and develop my own referees.

“When I look at what I have done for the entire continent, I think my referees are lagging behind and we are here trying to help them,” he said.

“What really pains me most is that when I go around Africa, most of the top referees I see there are my products but you don’t see my Zimbabwean referees.

“But unfortunately, in terms of the FIFA policy, we cannot intervene on the training; we can only wait to be called in like what they (ZIFA) have done now.”

He also urged the new generation of referees to show more commitment to their job and shun corruption.

“A person of integrity is someone who can never betray moral principles in order to preserve their own interests or those of another party,” he said.

“Referees must not change who they are in order to please those who want certain results.

“A referee is the last guardian of honesty in a football match.”

He also took time to give referees and match assessors tips on some of the tricks that match fixers use in trying to lure them.

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