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The UEFA rule change that will affect Arsenal in the Europa League knockout stages

Video assistant referees (VAR) will be in place for Arsenal’s Europa League round of 32 clash against Olympiacos.

In fact, the system – which has caused controversy throughout the Premier League this season – will be used throughout the Europa League knockout phase.

This means officials will be on the look for any clear and obvious errors when the north London outfit entertain the Greek outfit at the Karaiskakis Stadium as well as at the Emirates.

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Last season, VAR wasn’t in use in the Europa League until the final – which the Gunners were thumped 4-1 by Chelsea, but that ruling has been tweaked ahead of the beginning of this term’s knockout phase.

A statement via UEFA’s official website reads:

“Video assistant referees (VAR) will be deployed in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, which kicks off on 20 February. The decision was taken by the UEFA Executive Committee last September, following the introduction of the system in several UEFA competitions in the 2018/19 campaign.

“As far as this season’s UEFA Europa League is concerned, UEFA will use the system as from the round of 32.

“VAR analysis and training took place at UEFA’s winter course for top European referees in Mallorca in January, with the match officials, among other topics, also given an update on VAR procedures.

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The reasons for VAR

UEFA’s Referees Committee chairman Roberto Rosetti, committee colleagues and referees held intensive discussions about VAR at the UEFA course in Mallorca. Rosetti explains the purpose of VAR and the positive advantages of the system: “We believe that VAR is a crucial project for football,” he says.

“And I am very glad that we will now also have VAR in the Europa League, as it will provide vital help for referees to take correct decisions in these important matches.

“We’re very happy with the figures that we’ve seen in the UEFA Champions League group phase and playoffs – in 108 matches in total, 27 decisions have been corrected through the VAR system, which means that a decision has only been overturned every four matches – this shows the quality of the referees’ performances.

“In addition, we feel that the time taken to overturn a decision is important. So far this season, the average time for the correction of a decision has been 1 minute 30 seconds – 15 seconds less than last season.

“However, I would emphasise once more that – in compliance with its protocol – VAR  is only for clear and obvious mistakes, and not for controversial situations.

“Football needs good referees above all – match officials with a strong personality on the field of play, who take correct and courageous decisions.”