Technology bursts into Europe’s Top Competition
Beginning in the round of sixteenth of this year’s edition, VAR will be present in all fixtures of the UEFA Champions League
Our reality, often more than obvious, is that today technological innovation is transforming every field it affects. However, despite the complexity and relevance of digitalization in fields like banking or medicine, no technological innovation generates as much debate as those applied in sport, especially of course, if that sport is football. VAR, or the video assistant referee, plans to correct the element of human error in the principal referee by means of a room with screens replaying recurring plays. The system, which start using today in the UEFA Champions League, has left nobody without an opinion.
Maybe that’s why, during the most recent edition of Santander Talks held at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, former players of Spanish teams that qualified for the round of sixteen of the Champions League argued the use of the technology. One of them was the former Real Madrid player Manolo Sanchís, who minutes before discovering that Real Madrid would face Ajax in the round of sixteen, looked excited to be asked about the new video arbitration system: "I have been one of the most skeptical about the question of VAR. It takes time to figure out the best way of using it in the game, but at the moment I think it is a good example of technology applied in sport."
In the same room in which the winner of the 2019 Champions League will give their press conference, Julio Salinas, former player for Barcelona Football Club, also gave his opinion. "Today technology and television makes sports fairer. I think that VAR is something fundamental and it will be very positive for football. Imagine if the Spanish had VAR in the quarter final of the 1994 World Cup against Italy. We would have gone to the semifinal. "
During the event, which was broadcasted and involved discussion about the round of sixteen matchups, there was also time to talk about how football has changed in recent years and how long it has taken to incorporate the system. It’s also taken hold in other sports, as commented Milinko Pantic, former player at Atletico Madrid, these technological applications arrived years ago. "In tennis it’s the Hawk-Eye, or in basketball... they’ve been using technology like VAR for years. It's a good thing for smaller teams, a way of creating justice in football. "
Santander Bank, the official bank of the Champions League beginning this season, was present in the debate moderated by Juanma Castaño via Felipe Martín, Director of Sponsorships of Santander Spain, and confessed that the entity is delighted to be the host of this exciting season of change.