The inaugural game of Copa America 2021 is around the corner and teams are getting ready to begin their path in the exciting South American competition. Two years after the last edition that also took place in Brazil, many people may wonder if VAR will be used once again.
Ten nations will be ready to kick off their journey towards the highly desired trophy in what will be the 47th edition of the oldest soccer national team competition. Throughout history, many changes have taken place, such as dates, format, and even participant teams.
With technology innovations in the past years and the consensus for a tool that enables to make fairer decisions in soccer matches, the employment of Video Assistant Referee has been approved by FIFA and Conmebol has adopted it as well.
Is Copa America 2021 having VAR?
South America's soccer governing body introduced the modern instrument into its competitions in 2017, in that year's Copa Libertadores semifinals. From that very first moment on, its use has been surrounded with controversy.
For the second straight time in Brazil, Copa America 2021 will have VAR. Even though its application has led to harsh criticism not only in South America but anywhere else, as the soccer community seemed quite reluctant to accept it, competitions have began to use it anyways seeking to help referees and reduce possible mistakes.
Matches being delayed, controversial decisions by the VAR referees, and an alleged threat to the soul of the sport were among the many reasons why fans stood against the Video Assistant Referee practice. The experience in Brazil 2019 didn't turn out well either. For instance, the semifinal matchup between the hosts and Argentina was in the eye of the storm after the Albiceleste's players and fans complained about unfair use of the tool. Overall, it was used 17 times throughout the tournament, with 15 of those leading to a change in the ref's decision, which not always made fans happy.
However, new things don't always get off to the best start, and it would be unfair to forget the fact that it was VAR's first time in such an important event. Two years later, there have been continuous improvements and further capacitation for video assistant referees, which is why this second experience might be better and also key to help refs in making the right calls.