The Malta FA will be the 8th out of 53 member associations within UEFA to implement the use of additional assistant referees in its matches, starting from this year’s FA Trophy Semi-Finals and Final.
Italy was the first country to use additional assistant referees in its Serie A and Super Cup Final, followed by Turkey and Romania in their Super Cup Finals, Bosnia Herzegovina, Slovakia and Belgium in top league matches and France in the second part of the National Cup.
Photos: Copyright © domenic aquilina / MFA
A seminar was held last week at the Referees’ Department Conference Hall for match officials and referee observers in the Elite and First Categories. This was conducted by Dutch Instructor Ed Janssen, assisted by Malta FA Director of Refereeing Adrian Casha.
Besides the theoretical part of the AAR training given, referees and assistant referees were appointed for youth league matches to experiment with the use of “an extra two pairs of eyes”. In these matches AARs were found very useful to assist the referees in body contacts in the penalty area and in goal or no goal situations.
Special communication equipment was made available by UEFA and bought by the Malta FA to be used by the refereeing teams consisting of 6 members – 3 referees (the main referee and 2 additional assistant referees) and 3 assistant referees (2 assistant referees and 1 taking the role of the 4th Official).
Adrian Casha, Director of Refereeing at the Malta FA, stated that: “this is an exciting new project intended to deliver better decisions, especially regarding crucial situations in and around the penalty area and in offside situations. The AAR system will enable assistant referees to focus much more on judging offside correctly. With the use of AARs in EURO 2012, accurate offside decisions went up to 95.9%. The extra two pairs of eyes will also enable a much better judgement of whether a ball crosses the goal line or not.”
“Last week the Maltese referees and assistant referees surpassed my expectations in the excellent way they reacted towards the implementation of AARs in local football. All our match officials reacted positively, because the extra pair of eyes of the AARs have convinced them that this can deliver better control of the match, and the referees are getting extra information to help them make a correct decision.”
“The AAR system is no longer an experiment because the International Football Association Board (IFAB) have given the green light to add an extra pair of eyes near to each penalty area – to support the referee, to identify infringements, to reduce match-changing errors and to deter players from committing infringements.”
While assisting Belgium in their launch of the AAR System in January 2013, UEFA Chief Refereeing Officer Pierluigi Collina stated that “the main goal of the AAR system is to support the central referee when an important decision in or around the penalty area has to be taken. What was achieved so far in more than 1,200 matches is a better control of the match, a reduction of incidents at corners and free-kicks, a better control of the goal line, and improved accuracy in the offside decisions taken by the assistant referee.”
In his conclusion, Adrian Casha stated that “one has to understand that the implementation of additional assistant referees is not a guarantee for referees’ errors to be reduced to zero, however the objective of giving a better service to teams with more accurate decisions can be reached through efficient teamwork between the members of the refereeing team. We still have one referee not two or three, but this one referee has more vision and more information about an incident, that can be seen from a closer and different angle by his AAR.”