J.League has announced that it will be reintroducing Video Assistant Referee (VAR) for Meji Yasuda J1 League matches for the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
In September 2019, it was announced that would be implementing VAR for the 2020 season, however nine days into the season it was announced that the competition was being suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Four months later upon the restart of the league it was also decided that VAR would not be used for the rest of the season. J.League said that this was due to its “tight schedule and limited number of referees.”
VAR will be implemented for a total of 394 matches during the 2021 season – this includes 380 Meji Yasuda J1 League matches, one Super Cup match and 13 J. League YBC Levain Cup, Prime Stage matches.
The 2022 season will see VAR used for 321 matches – including 306 Meji Yasuda J1 League matches, one Super Cup match, 13 J. League YBC Levain Cup, Prime Stage matches and one J1 Promotion Playoff Final.
“The development of J.League is a crucial factor for Japanese football to reach new heights, and the J.League is currently setting their goal to reach the heights of Europe’s top five leagues by 2030,” Chairman Ogawa Yoshimi of the Japanese Football Association Referees Committee said in February 2020.
“With VAR (video assistant referee) already being implemented in many leagues in Europe, the J.League must follow the same footsteps in order to achieve their goal. Therefore, JFA will work together with J.League to proceed with the implementation of VAR to help raise the level of Japanese football.”
J.League said that is still yet to be determined if the 2022 Super Cup match (which is played between the reigning Emperor’s Cup winners and J1 League Champions) and the J1 Promotion Playoff Final will be played.
The number of matches in the 2022 Meji Yasuda J1 League season is also dependent on the league staying at its current number of 18 clubs.
Relegation has been suspended for 2020 season due to the pandemic. The top two J2 League clubs for the 2020 season will be automatically promoted into the Meji Yasuda J1 League, increasing the number of teams in the competition to 20.
Four clubs will then be relegated from J1 to J2 after the 2021 season. Two clubs will also be promoted which is set to restore the number of clubs in the J.League to 18.