Bengaluru, January 23: AFC Asian Cup history will be made on Thursday (January 24) when the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system makes its debut from the first quarter-finals of the Continental showpiece, which sees Vietnam take on Japan at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai at 5pm local time (6.30pm IST).
Leading Asian refereeing in the milestone implementation is none other than Mohammed Abdulla Mohamed from the UAE, who will supported by Assistant Referees, Mohamed Alhammadi and Hassan Almahri, who featured in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The Emirati trio, who will be supported by compatriot and fourth official Ammar Aljneibi, officiated the Group C match between France and Peru in Ekaterinburg, Russia. Australia's Christopher Beath has been appointed as the VAR and will be assisted by Muhammad Taqi Bin Jahari from Singapore as well as Italian Paolo Valeri.
Renowned referee Pierluigi Collina, who was in the UAE during the tournament, had already given his thumbs up for the introduction of VAR in the continental showpiece
In addition to organising a comprehensive series of VAR specific workshops since September last year, the AFC has also successfully completed a robust test of the system during the round-of-16 stage across the four quarterfinal venues.
These include the Zayed Sport City Stadium and Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain's Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium and the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai.
Some of the industry's most renowned figures which include, IFAB Technical Director, David Elleray, FIFA Referees' Committee Chairman Collina, and Head of FIFA Refereeing, Massimo Busacca have also been invited to the UAE by the AFC to ensure the highest VAR standards and protocols are observed.
"The VAR system is undoubtedly the future of football," said Elleray, who has spent the last 12 days in the UAE working with the referees and VARs.
The philosophy behind the system is "minimum interference for maximum benefit" - the VAR is there not to influence every decision but to help the referee when there is a clear error or something serious has been missed in a match-changing incident," he added.
The VAR system will be limited to four game-changing decisions or incidents. These are goal or no goal, penalty-kicks, red cards and mistaken identity decisions.