February 09, (THEWILL) – Ex-England international Gary Neville has praised the use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology by officials at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Ivory Coast.
Taking to Twitter, Neville posted that he was “staggered” by the “standards of officiating” demonstrated at AFCON 2023 so far. He stated that unlike the controversial implementation of VAR often seen in Europe and the English Premier League, African football seems to have “invented” the system with its near-flawless operation.
This came after VAR corrected a critical decision during Wednesday’s quarter-final match between Nigeria and South Africa. The system overturned the referee’s initial ruling and awarded South Africa a penalty, allowing them to equalise after being 1-0 down. Nigeria went on to win on penalties and progress to Sunday’s final versus hosts Ivory Coast.
Neville asserted that because of examples like this, European leagues have “a lot of learning to do” from their African counterparts regarding effective VAR usage. His comments highlight a reversal of roles, given that the technology originated in Europe but is seemingly better operated by African officials right now.
With VAR likely to remain an intrinsic part of the modern game, administrators may need to analyse its AFCON application to enhance the system’s consistency across competitions. For Neville though, Africa has set an officiating standard that everyone else should aspire towards.
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Jude Obafemi is a versatile senior Correspondent at THEWILL Newspapers, excelling in sourcing, researching, and delivering sports news stories for both print and digital publications.