VAR trial to take place this weekend

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Video Assistant Referee [VAR] will be trialled during Chelsea FC Women’s pre-season friendly match against AS Roma at Kingsmeadow on Sunday 3 September.

The VAR trial for this match is being conducted by PGMOL and The FA and forms part of an ongoing commitment to test the technology within the women’s professional game, and it will also provide valuable insight and training for match officials.

This is the first VAR trial to take place at a Barclays Women’s Super League stadium in England, and it will be an opportunity to test the implementation of the technology in a stadium within the women’s domestic leagues.

Abi Byrne will be the matchday referee and will be supported by assistant referees Georgia Ball and Nicoleta Bria. Mel Burgin will be fourth official for the fixture, which kicks off at 8pm.

Fellow Barclays Women’s Super League match officials Emily Heaslip and Chloe-Ann Small will operate as VAR and Assistant VAR respectively from the PGMOL VAR facility based at Stockley Park near London.

Heaslip was the referee when VAR made its debut in England’s domestic women’s game for the 2023 Women’s FA Cup Final when Chelsea defeated Manchester United 1-0 at Wembley Stadium last May, in front of a record crowd of 77,390.

Bibi SteinhausWebb, Select Group Women’s Professional Game Director at PGMOL, said: “We are constantly looking at ways to develop and broaden the skills of our officials with the use of technology becoming an important part of their training.

“The preparation for the introduction of VAR technology has been happening for a sustained period of time now, and officials continually take part in both theory and on-field sessions, including behind-closed-doors practice matches.

“This is the next step in testing VAR technology in the women’s professional game and follows on from The FA Women’s Cup Final in May. Like on that day, if the support of VAR technology is needed in this weekend’s match between Chelsea and AS Roma, it will be there and the teamwork between the on-field match officials and VAR team will be crucial to achieving the correct outcome.”

Hannah Buckley, Senior Facilities and Projects Manager at The FA, said: “This trial brings together many stakeholders from across the game to test how VAR technology can be used in the women’s domestic game. This is the next important step in this process and will provide valuable insight going forward, and it’s important that we take the opportunity to test the infrastructure and necessary requirements when implementing VAR.

“Those in attendance and watching on Chelsea’s livestream will be made aware that VAR is being used as part of our ongoing work to prepare match officials and clubs for its potential use should it be considered for wider implementation in the future.”

The referee may be assisted by the VAR only in the event of a ‘clear and obvious error’ or ‘serious missed incident’ in relation to the following four situations:

Goal/no goal
Penalty/no penalty
Direct red card (not second caution)
Mistaken identity when the referee cautions or sends off the wrong player of the offending team
The assistance from the VAR will relate to using replay(s) of the incident but the referee will always make the final decision, which may be based solely on the information from the VAR and/or the referee reviewing the replay footage directly via an on-field review.

If play has stopped and restarted, the referee may only undertake a review for mistaken identity or for a potential sending-off offence.

With thanks to the FA