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AFC to debut VAR in Asian Champions League

The Asian Football Confederation will today use Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in theAsian Champions League for the first time.

The Asian Football Confederation will today use Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in the Asian Champions League for the first time.

The AFC Champions League Quarter-finals match between Saudi Arabian clubs Al Nassr and Al Ahli FC at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar will be the first game where VAR has been used in an AFC Club Competition.

VAR was first used in an AFC competition for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 – VAR was used from the Quarter-final stage onwards. The Asian Champions League is now the third AFC competition to use VAR.

The AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 earlier this year was the first AFC competition to use VAR for all 32 matches.

“Asian referees are already among the best in the world, but we must continue to set higher standards to ensure the AFC continues to be leaders in world refereeing,” AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said in a statement.

“So much has gone into the successful and safe restart of the AFC Champions League in the West region and the introduction of the VAR system from the Quarter-final stage reinforces the AFC’s Vision to provide the ultimate stage for our players, teams and match officials to showcase their undeniable talent.

“The AFC has a proven track record in the implementation of the VAR system and I would like to thank FIFA, IFAB, our technology partners, our host association – the Qatar Football Association and all our stakeholders for ensuring our matches are delivered to the highest standards possible.”

Match officials have completed various courses and seminars in order to be prepared to use VAR. The AFC’s first ever AFC VAR course was held online last month and was attended by 104 officials from 19 different member associations.

The AFC said that it had a commitment to make sure that match officials were equipped with the latest developments for VAR.

An AFC VAR Information Officer (VIO) Workshop 2020 was also organised on August 26. This ensured that VIOs understand the technical requirements of the VAR system.

Daniel Foley is a sports junior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and micro industry matters.

Sky Sports extends rights to NIFL

The Northern Ireland Football League has announced that Sky Sports will be the exclusive broadcaster of Football in the region once again.

The Northern Ireland Football League has announced that Sky Sports will once again be the exclusive broadcaster of top-flight football in the region for the next three years.

The Irish League has had a long-lasting partnership with Sky over the years and the agreement will see the relationship in place until the end of the 2024/25 season.

The new agreement will see four Danske Bank Premiership fixtures and the BetMcLean League Cup final broadcast live across the UK & Ireland each season.

Northern Ireland Football Chief Executive, Gerard Lawlor:

“We sincerely thank Sky Sports for their continued backing of our game and we look forward to showcasing some of the best NI Football League matches together over the next three seasons,” he said.

“To continue to have the invaluable support of such a high-profile broadcaster shows how far our league has progressed in recent years as we bring our game to an increasing audience of loyal fans.

“The NI Football League brand is continuing to grow outside of the confines of Northern Ireland, and through Sky Sports, many football fans are now becoming more familiar with the rich history of our clubs and as well as some of the household names that have played in the Irish League.”

Sky Sports Director of Football, Gary Hughes:

“As a long-term partner to the Northern Ireland Football League, we’re delighted to extend Sky Sports’ support of the league and ensure that its entertaining action continues to be available to our customers,” he said.

“Sky Sports customers will be able to enjoy the Northern Ireland Football league alongside our ever-expanding football offering in the UK & Ireland which includes over 500 live games in 2022, from the Premier League, EFL, Scottish Premiership and FA Women’s Super League as well as international action in the form of World Cup Qualifiers, and this month’s Africa Cup of Nations – placing Sky Sports as the home of live football.”

Valencia CF presents revised stadium upgrade plans

Valencia CF President Anil Murthy has stated the club will not deliver a “low-cost stadium” after holding talks with Mayor Joan Ribó over reviving the long-running Nuevo Mestella project.

Valencia CF President Anil Murthy has stated the club will not deliver a “low-cost stadium” after holding talks with Mayor Joan Ribó over reviving the long-running Nuevo Mestella project.

Valencia’s stadium, the Nuevo Mestalla, was originally under construction in 2009. However, over the last 12 years, due to financial issues and negotiation breakdowns, construction has never been completed and the situation has become known as one of the world’s most notorious stadium projects.

Murthy presented revised plans to a Council delegation led by Ribó, with the club seeking to recommence work on the stadium in order to ensure it retains the advantages granted to it under an ATE construction license given in 2012.

The plans presented to the council include a stadium capacity between 43,000 to 46,000, expandable to 60,000. The stadium would have a second ring dedicated almost exclusively to leisure and restaurant offerings, while the roof will be fitted with solar panels in an effort to drive sustainability.

Valencia Mayor, Joan Ribo:

“Initially it is proposed for a capacity comparable to that which the (Mestalla) stadium currently has (48,500), but expandable to 62,000 spectators. But I think this is not the fundamental element,” he said.

“The fundamental element is the novelty of this second ring that has seemed to me to be a remarkable element that is not in many football stadia. They propose a roof that is made of photovoltaic panels, which is an example at that level that I want to value.

“They have assured us that they have guarantees with the bank where they have the debt, which is now Caixabank.

“They have presented us with a calendar where in June 2022 the works of the sports centre would begin, in October 2022 the start of the works of the stadium and in August 2024 the inauguration of the new Mestalla. The calendar seems realistic and possible, but if it is not met, they will listen to us.”

In December, Valencia revealed plans to use funds from LaLiga’s strategic venture, with global investment fund CVC Capital Partners to help finance the construction of its new stadium. Valencia is reportedly set to receive approximately $189 million AUD from LaLiga as part of the LaLiga Impulso venture. $125 million of which is set to head to the stadium project.

Valencia CF President, Anil Murthy:

“The meeting has been very positive. After the two meetings with the Generalitat, today we have taken an important step by formally presenting the project we have to the important institution, which is the City Council,” he said.

“We have agreed on recommencing work as soon as possible, after presenting the project to the Generalitat and the City Council.

“Nobody talks about a low-cost stadium. It’s going to be a stadium that’s going to give a lot of people a lot of hope and it’s going to mean a lot of investment in the city. It’s going to be something different and something attractive.”

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