Monday 01 July 2024, 06:00

Hong Kong VAR programme expands to include women and youth

  • Hong Kong’s VAR programme launched in 2023

  • Programme supported by FIFA Forward funding

  • VAR technology expanded to include Women’s Cup and youth finals

The breadth of VAR coverage in Hong Kong has grown with the technology being expanded to include women’s competition and youth tournament finals.

VAR technology was introduced in Hong Kong in 2023 following funding from FIFA Forward and the Hong Kong government.

A total of 39 referees and replay operators were trained and licenced by FIFA with funding also covering the costs of live production, hardware equipment, and the purchase of FIFA-licenced VAR technology.

“The VAR system not only benefits the matches themselves but can also be used for training referees in the future," said Hong Kong FA Chairman, Mr. Eric Fok.

"Fairer matches also make the games more engaging for spectators. This can create a virtuous cycle, bringing in new blood for the football community, which is in line with the HKFA's goal of enhancing professionalism and developing sports as an industry."

The use of VAR is part of the HKFA’s long-term strategy of raising standards at national team and league level for both men’s and women’s football. HKFA hopes the technology will help Hong Kong host international tournaments in the future.

The first Hong Kong Premier League (HKPL) match to feature VAR was played between Sham Shui Po and Crownity North District in September 2023. The project has been an instant success, with VAR technology applied in 98 HKPL, Hong Kong FA Cup, Senior Shield Cup and Sapling Cup matches during the inaugural season with a total of 65 VAR reviews.

Through expansion, women’s competitions and youth tournaments also benefit from the project, beginning with the Women’s Football League FA Cup Final where Chelsea FA Soccer School HK defeated Kitchee 1-0 on Sunday 16 June.

Implementation in youth competition finals soon followed on Sunday 23 June. This expansion has been funded through the FIFA Forward Development programme.

“The introduction of the VAR system into the Hong Kong Premier League is made possible thanks to the kind support of FIFA, and its recent implementation to the Premier Youth League and HKJC Women's FA Cup is surely another milestone," added Acting General Secretary, Charles Cheung.

“It helps enhance the accuracy of refereeing decisions, making the matches fairer and just, and we have now trained 14 VAR and 15 AVAR referees.”