Tanzania's referees ought to be prepared for VAR, goal-line technology

07Dec 2021
Nassir Nchimbi
The Guardian
Tanzania's referees ought to be prepared for VAR, goal-line technology

​​​​​​​WHEN the issue of the use of special technology to assist football referees, termed as Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, was raised by the British after England national team had a goal disallowed in the 2010 World Cup match against Germany, it seemed unlikely.

Tanzanian soccer referee, Jonesia Rukyaa.

A large group of football stakeholders and fans seemed to oppose the use of both the VAR and that of the goal line to inform the referee whether the ball had crossed the goal line or not believing it would lose the flavor and excitement of the football game.

However, 11 years later, VAR and goal-line technologies have become a common occurrence in football and it is the dream of every country to use the technologies to ensure referees make the fairest decisions and minimize incidents that benefit unfair teams.

Tanzania is one of the countries where football fans and stakeholders are keen to have these technologies in our league although, in reality, it is not an easy task due to the high cost of purchasing and maintaining equipment for these technologies.

The world is like a village and Tanzania is not an island so when other countries are walking, we at least should strive to crawl instead of refusing to attempt to take any action.

VAR technology is indeed expensive and difficult to use in Tanzania this season, next, or even 2023/24 but that should not be a reason to prevent referees and football officials in the country from gaining knowledge about the use of such equipment and technology.

There are countries, associations, and federations that are friendly to football that the country's soccer stakeholders can ask to help us teach our match officials on the use, maintenance, and management of the technology and it became a productive one for us.

There is a great benefit to them gaining knowledge and understanding of VAR issues even if the technology has not yet arrived or started to be used in a different country than now where most of them end up seeing it used in various leagues and competitions via television or reading and hearing in various media and networks.

The first is to prepare our officers and referees to use the technology when it comes to using it in the country instead of seeing foreigners and football authorities come to use force and high cost to build their capacity to use it in the future.

But it will also help open the door for them to have the opportunity to play or regularly host international tournament matches such as the World Cup, the Africa Cup of Nations, the CAF Champions League, the CAF Confederation Cup, and others hosted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Assistant referee, Frank Komba, and referee, Jonesia Rukyaa, are currently Tanzania's match officials who have been getting regular opportunities to officiate in various major football tournaments in Africa.

Records show that these referees from time to time participated in VAR technology training and management programs when they were shortlisted for the national youth and women's teams' competitions.

This was probably one of the reasons why they were given priority when making nominations of referees from the country to officiate in different competitions compared to their peers.

It is also advisable to call on Tanzania's referees to strive for further education, especially language so that it will be easier for them to afford such training if the football authorities see the need to build their capacity to use technology that is used to support them, such as VAR or goal line.

We must be honest that we have a large group of football referees in the country whose academic challenge has been hindering them from progressing locally and internationally due to failure to perform well in theoretical examinations, unlike other countries where we have witnessed a large group of referees who have a good foundation of education.

It does not happen by accident or bullying for many Tanzanian referees not to have the opportunity to officiate big matches of various competitions.

There are areas where the referees have such weaknesses in the use of technology so to help them we must create a better environment to provide them with the knowledge that contributes to their downfall.