Rwanda cannot afford the costs involved to install the latest Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology in stadiums – even as several match officials are suspended for contested officiating, says the domestic football governing body FERWAFA.
In the past weeks, there have been various controversial refereeing decisions in the local league. Recently, FERWAFA suspended referee Samuel Uwikunda for negligence during the game of top league sides APR FC vs Mukura Victory Sports.
Two match commissioners Innocent Nshimiyimana and Faradji Niyitegaka were also suspended for awarding a controversial penalty to Miroplast FC against Mukura VS.
Two referees were earlier also slapped with a four-match suspension for poorly performing in the quarter finals return leg match of the Peace Cup 2018.
There have been loud calls from fans and media commentary for the new VAR systems to be deployed.
The system involves watching action remotely and drawing the match referees’ attention to officiating mistakes from a centralized video operation room.
VAR system was first used at the World Cup for the first time in the 2018 finals in Russia. The system supported the head referee in each of the World Cup’s 64 matches. It settled various contested goals.
In Rwanda, Michel Gasingwa FERWAFA commissioner in charge of refereeing told The Chronicles that such a system will not be here soon.
“It is expensive,” he said. “We need to have 16 cameras in order to use VAR in a single match, yet there are eight games played on a particular match day.”
There is no standard price for installing the system in each stadium as it depends among other aspects on size of the facility. But costs can range up to $150,000 (Rwf 134m) for one stadium.
Across Rwanda, there are four up-to-standard stadiums, and three more are under construction.
In 2015, Tanzanian satellite pay television firm Azam TV penned $2.35m (Rwf 2.2billion) sponsorship deal with Rwanda Premier League for five years.
The full ministry of sports and culture budget for 2018-19 is Rwf 2.1billion. It also has to cater for other sports.
Even if the stadiums are managed by the central government and local administrative units, which directly fund district football clubs, the VAR costs are way beyond the country’s ability at the moment.
Gasingwa the FERWAFA commissioner said: “…Only South Africa can afford to [install VAR] on the whole African continent.”
He said there were other effective ways of handling match disputes that the local league has been using such as reviewing video footages from Azam TV cameras which covers the league.
The VAR technology was employed at Stade Mohammed V in Morocco, during the 2018 Caf Super Cup tie between Wydad Athletic Club and TP Mazembe (DR Congo) in March.