RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Copa America organizers CONMEBOL defended the use of video technology at the tournament after revealing VAR stoppages had averaged two minutes 26 seconds per intervention, nearly double the time taken at the 2018 World Cup.
The lengthy delays to play owing to VAR has led to whistling from disgruntled supporters and been criticized by figures including Colombia coach Carlos Queiroz, just as the technology has become a huge topic of debate at the Women’s World Cup.
CONMEBOL referees’ chief Wilson Seneme gave a news conference on Tuesday after the conclusion of the group stage to discuss the use of VAR at the tournament and said there had been 17 interventions in the 18 games, with 11 on-screen reviews.
The average time per intervention easily eclipses the 80-second delays for VAR at the 2018 World Cup, the first major tournament where the technology was used.
The longest amount of stoppage time added on in the Copa was nine minutes in Brazil’s goalless draw with Venezuela, during which three goals were ruled out — two by VAR.
The extra time for stoppages added in that game was dwarfed, however, by the 18 minutes added in England’s 3-0 win over Cameroon in the Women’s World Cup.
“There have been no scandals and this gives us peace of mind. We are very satisfied with the result,” Seneme said, adding that 15 decisions were changed as a result of the technology’s use and two were upheld.
“We have been working on this since 2017 and the positive and negative results have allowed us to manage it well in 2019. The referee is still the one who decides, VAR is there to help the decisions.”
Venezuela have had a total of four goals scored against them ruled out by VAR, and after they scraped a goalless draw with hosts Brazil after two late goals were chalked off, coach Rafael Dudamel delightedly declared “Long live VAR”.
Argentina meanwhile were losing to Paraguay when they were awarded a penalty which no-one had appealed for after VAR spotted that a shot from Lautaro Martinez had taken the slightest of deflections off the hand of Paraguay’s Ivan Piris.
Lionel Messi scored from the spot to salvage a 1-1 draw which proved crucial in his side progressing to the last eight, where they will face Venezuela.
Colombia coach Queiroz has been VAR’s fiercest critic at the tournament, saying it desperately needed to be reviewed after it denied his side a goal and overturned a penalty that had been awarded to them in a 1-0 win over Paraguay.
“Something has to change, because the fans are left confused and the players and coaches too. VAR was supposed to make football clearer and more objective but it’s doing the opposite,” he said.
“We need to have a re-think for the good of football because the fans are not happy about it and neither are we.”
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis