AFCON 2023: Why VAR Is the Best Thing To Happen to African Referees, Top AFCON Official Explains

AFCON 2023: Why VAR Is the Best Thing To Happen to African Referees, Top AFCON Official Explains

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
updated at January 26, 2024 at 11:17 AM
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  • Referees at the ongoing 2023 AFCON have received rave reviews
  • The officials have been praised for their excellent use of the VAR
  • Ghanaian referee, Daniel Laryea has explained why VAR is great

The 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations has not only provided an abundance of drama, unexpected outcomes, and high-quality football, but has also showcased commendable refereeing performances.

Throughout the group stages, encompassing all 36 matches so far, referees have demonstrated a near-perfect level of officiating.

There have been minimal complaints from players, coaches, or even federations regarding the standard of refereeing at the 34th edition of the continental showpiece.

Daniel Laryea, VAR, AFCON 2023, referee, Ghana
Ghanaian referee and AFCON official, Daniel Laryea is regarded as one of the best officials on the African continent. Photos by Kenzo Tribouillard and Fadel Senna.
Source: Getty Images

This outcome can be attributed to the overall excellence displayed by the officials, supported by the implementation of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology, as noted by Pan-Africa Football.

While the VAR has generated mixed reactions in the world's most-watched sport, with critics arguing it diminishes football's authenticity and wastes time, the technology has been notably effective and well-received at this year's AFCON.

Almost all VAR decisions have been accurate, emphasising their importance, and most crucially, these decisions have been made promptly without disrupting the natural flow of play.

Laryea explains why VAR is the best

Ghanaian referee, Daniel Nii Ayi Laryea, commenting on the utilisation of VAR at the biennial competition, highlighted the significance of the Confederation of African Football's (CAF) training program, which has empowered officials to employ the technology effectively.

"VAR is the best thing to happen to us as CAF referees," he said in an interview with Sports Brief.
"I like the way our instructors put us together [in terms of] the basics and what we need to do on the field of play. For me, it’s the best and we’ve gone through so much. VAR came to Africa in 2017 when we started the practicals and we’ve been able to develop a lot of referees, who are well endowed with the VAR procedures and protocols."

Laryea, a highly regarded figure in African football officiating, boasts extensive experience across various roles, including youth tournaments, club competitions, and women's events, per Ghanasoccernet.

He is confident that African referees have the capability to perform at par with their international counterparts.

"I can say we can match the international level as of now, and you can see it in the AFCON. That is not to say there are no errors but at least 95 per cent of what is happening, we’ve been able to tackle it with the help of the VAR. So I’m happy with it."

Daniel Laryea speaks on Ghana's AFCON woes

Sports Brief also previously reported on Laryea offering insight into Ghana's lacklustre performance at the ongoing 2023 AFCON.

The 36-year-old CAF-licensed official provided his perspective on the Black Stars' campaign, which concluded in the group stage.

Ghana's national side fell well short of the expectations set for them, echoing their disappointing campaign from the last edition.

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe photo
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe is a Ligue 1, Bundesliga, and La Liga editor with five-year experience. He previously worked with Sports Corna and 360SportsGH.
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