Expect teething problems as VAR testing kicks off

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Football League (MFL) will use eight pre-season fixtures to work out the kinks in the new Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system before the new Super League season.

MFL chief executive officer Datuk Stuart Ramalingam said the friendly fixtures will be a good platform to iron out issues within the system before the league starts on May 10.

“We expect to face problems, but whatever we encounter, we will work as a unit with the production and technical crew,” said Stuart.

“VAR can face difficulties during the testing phase and we are aware that it won’t be smooth because we can see from the reviews that it takes some time.

“We also know that the infrastructure differs from state to state, so we need to be ready when any problem arises,” he said during a briefing session to stakeholders on the VAR system at the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Stadium in Shah Alam.

The league has acquired four mobile units of the VAR system as stadiums in the country will not have a dedicated VAR room.

For Sabah and Sarawak, Stuart said the system is modular, hence allowing it to be put into flight cases and brought to East Malaysia.

“If you see the league schedule, there is a maximum of three matches per day, so we can make sure that there is one mobile unit that’s free,” he said.

Currently, FIFA are inspecting the system over the course of four days, and the final approval will be known on Sunday.

Stuart added that fans in stadiums will not get to see the VAR replays on the big screen, but instead will just see the notification stating that the play is under VAR review.

“If the screen is unusable for whatever reason, then the game and VAR will still be used but we have other methods of communicating with the fans about the VAR’s decision,” he said.

So far, Stuart said the league has spent roughly RM5-6 million to bring in the VAR system and has a yearly budget of about RM3.5 million for operational costs.

Meanwhile, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) had also launched the Professional Referee Academy, aimed at producing high-performing referees to officiate Super League matches and eventually international fixtures.

According to FAM deputy president Datuk S. Sivasundaram, a total of 30 referees, including three female referees, have been called up to participate in the academy’s project for its first batch, which started in 2023 and will end in 2025.

FIXTURES (VAR testing)

Kuala Lumpur vs Negri Sembilan

Kuala Lumpur Stadium, April 22

Kelantan vs Pahang

Sultan Muhammad IV Stadium, April 24

Perak vs Kedah

Perak Stadium, April 27

Police vs Kuala Lumpur

Selayang Municipal Council Stadium, April 27

Pahang vs Terengganu

Temerloh Municipal Council Stadium, April 28

Kedah vs Penang

Darul Aman Stadium, April 30

Terengganu vs Kelantan

Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Stadium, May 30

Penang vs Perak

City Stadium, May 4

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