History made in A-League as Virtual Assistant Referee system reverses penalty decision

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A meeting between Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC saw the technology used for the first time after the match officials initially waved away protests

The Virtual Assistant Referee (VAR) system has been used in an A-League fixture for the first time, with the division trialling the FIFA technology.

Australia’s top tier is the first elite division to implement the system, with Melbourne City and Adelaide United involved in a historic fixture on Friday.

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There was no need for outside interference in that contest, but Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC have broken new ground.

In the 70th minute of their encounter, a handball shout was waved away by the match officials.

The VAR system was, however, to reverse that call and Sydney opened the scoring from the penalty spot through Brazilian forward Bobo.

The game would go on to finish 1-1, with Wellington snatching a stoppage-time equaliser.

The VAR system will continue to be used through the remaining two rounds of A-League fixtures and the end-of-season finals.

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It has already figured at the Club World Cup, along with a number of friendly contests around the world, but Australia are the first nation to use the technology across an entire league.

FIFA saw the International Football Advisory Board approve testing in March 2016, with VAR on hand to aid with “match-changing” incidents relating to goals, penalties, direct red cards and cases of mistaken identity. 

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