VAR in FA Cup: Is Video Assistant Referee used in third-round matches?

The use and absence of VAR (Video Assistant Referee) technology in the FA Cup has led to familiar controversies in England’s flagship cup competition.

Newcastle United fans felt their team might have avoided a shock exit at Championship opponents Sheffield Wednesday in 2022/23 had VAR been used over a suspected offside goal for the Owls during their 2-1 defeat.

By contrast, Manchester United’s 1-0 win at home to Aston Villa in 2022 was helped by a complicated review that led to the visitors being denied an equaliser.

Will VAR be used in the 2023/24 FA Cup? The Sporting News explains all.

MORE: Full schedule and fixture list for 2023/24 FA Cup

VAR in FA Cup: Is it being used in Third Round matches?

As viewers of those games at Hillsborough and Old Trafford discovered, VAR is only used at Premier League grounds, which is why it wasn’t able to potentially help the Magpies.

Six top-flight teams entered the third-round weekend knowing that they would have a weekend off VAR after being drawn away to teams from lower divisions.

Why isn’t VAR used at non-Premier League grounds?

The competition would need to ask the International Football Association Board (IFAB) for a license to use the technology across the competition.

Installing the technology would be a laborious process at many of the grounds involved. It will not even be used at former Premier League clubs who have been drawn at home in the Third Round and used VAR during their spells in the division, such as Norwich City and Watford.

MORE: Date and time of FA Cup Fourth Round draw

Despite saying VAR should be “utilised wherever possible”, the FA explained in 2021/22 that “infrastructure, workforce and costs” meant their approach in the competition would not change.

Critics say it is unfair that decisions in some matches should be subject to extra scrutiny while games held in stadiums outside of the Premier League are not.

When is VAR used?

There are four situations in which VAR can be used during the course of a match. It may assist the referee only when a clear and obvious error or serious missed incident occurs in relation to the following:

  • Goal/no goal
  • Penalty/no penalty
  • Direct red card (not a second yellow or caution)
  • Case of mistaken identity (when the referee sends off the wrong player)

In all of the above scenarios, VAR can only be used after the match referee has made an initial decision, meaning that the on-pitch official cannot defer directly to VAR instead of making a decision themselves. However, VAR may be used to check that a referee allowing play to continue was correct.

The final decision is always made by the on-field referee, either based on information provided by VAR, or after the referee has carried out a review of the incident in question at the pitchside monitor.

VAR is only allowed to be used in situations where the organiser of a match or competition has received written permission from FIFA and has fulfilled the requirements of FIFA’s Implementation Assistance and Approval Programme (IAAP).

FA Cup Trophy 022823

Getty Images

When was VAR first used in the FA Cup and Premier League?

Premier League clubs voted to introduce VAR from the start of the 2019/20 season following testing behind the scenes.

VAR was first used in a competitive English game on January 8, 2018, when Brighton & Hove Albion beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at the Amex Stadium in the FA Cup.

It was used again two days later, when Chelsea and Arsenal drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge in a Carabao Cup semifinal first leg.

How to watch the FA Cup

The table below details where fans can watch selected matches across some of the world’s major territories.

  TV Streaming
USA ESPN ESPN+
Canada Sportsnet
UK BBC, ITV BBC iPlayer, ITV X
Australia Network 10 Paramount+
India Sony TEN JioTV, Sony LIV

Source

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