VAR in Scottish football: Update given on start date and 'education' required

Scottish Football Association chief executive Ian Maxwell believes "education" will be key to ensuring VAR runs smoothly when it is implemented in Scottish football later this year.

VAR is due to come to Scottish football in December.
VAR is due to come to Scottish football in December.

SPFL clubs voted in April for the introduction of the video technology to the cinch Premiership, and it remains "on course" to be rolled out in Scotland's top flight immediately after the World Cup in December.

Maxwell is excited about bringing it into the Scottish game, but he feels its success will be reliant on making sure everyone involved has a full grasp of how it works to minimise confusion and disputes relating to its use.

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"From a national association perspective in terms of referee retention, referee recruitment, VAR is vital from that perspective," said Maxwell, speaking ahead of the SFA's annual general meeting. "Obviously it helps the referees during match-days.

"We've gone through a huge amount of work. (Head of referee operations) Crawford Allan and the referee operations team have worked really hard with the match officials to make sure their training is all going to plan, and it is.

"We are on course for the start date we previously publicised. There is a sign-off process to go through with FIFA. They have a set-out and established protocol that we need to conform to. They will come over and check everything we are doing is appropriate, and it will be.

"One of the biggest elements round about VAR is going to be the education of fans, players, managers and broadcasters so people understand why we use it and when we use it.

"It's not a panacea. It's not going to eradicate every wrong corner or every wrong throw-in in the game. It only deals with the significant issues and it's important that everybody understands exactly what it's used for.

"We will be absolutely delighted when it's rolled out later this year."

Maxwell also offered an update on Scotland's joint bid with England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland to host Euro 2028.

"We're working through the bid dossier," he said. "We noted expression of interest in line with UEFA timelines. Ourselves, the other four host associations and the respective government partners are working through that bid dossier which UEFA have provided.

"There is obviously a huge amount of work involved in that to make sure we have all the requirements met and we can put forward as strong a bid as we can, which we are absolutely confident we will do.

"We saw the benefit that hosting Euro 2020 had to football across the country and we would be absolutely delighted to do that again in 2028."

Meanwhile, Maxwell believes Scotland manager Steve Clarke and his players have drawn extra motivation for their bid to qualify for Euro 2024 in Germany from the disappointment of losing to Ukraine in the World Cup play-off semi-final this month.

"2021 was a really positive year for the men's national team, there's no doubt about that," he reflected. "We were delighted to host the delayed Euro 2020 matches at Hampden.

"We were delighted to participate and that helped drive a huge amount of engagement with the national team that carried on into the qualifying campaign for Qatar.

"We finished second in the qualifying group with the highest points total of any second-placed team, which is a terrific achievement. We finished the campaign particularly strongly.

"Obviously everyone was devastated with the performance and result against Ukraine but I think the experience of the Euros and the disappointment of Qatar has strengthened the resolve of Steve and the players to be at the next tournament."