February 23, 2024

Video evidence in football – A company in Freiburg develops “VAR light” technology – News


The video assistant is expensive and is only used in the major leagues. Now one Freiburg company wants to change that.

The referee blows his whistle, draws a square in the air with his fingers, runs to the edge of the game and looks at the screen. The football world is now used to this spectacle. The video assistant is part of the major leagues and in the top leagues.


VAR has been used in the Swiss top league since 2019.

Keystone/Christian Beitler

It's different in the lower leagues: VAR, the video assistant referee, is not common practice there. Too expensive, too much effort. Freiburg wants to change that. “Video support is needed even in the lower leagues,” Jean-Sébastien Mérieux is convinced. He is the Managing Director of Dartfish. A company that has developed a type of “VAR light” technology. “It's video support, just in a simpler version.”

Freiburg System in Brazil

The Freiburg company specializes in video analysis in sports, for example in skiing. It made sense to introduce VAR to the lower leagues. The Dartfish system is much cheaper, says Jean-Sébastien Mérieux. The company does not publish exact cost figures. “But I would say our system costs about a tenth of what regular systems cost.” Because it operates with cheaper cameras, laptops rather than a fixed computer center and fewer employees.

FIFA approved Freiburg's system last fall. It can now be used in the lower leagues. “We have signed a contract with two regional leagues in Brazil. “Our VAR technology will be used there in the future,” says Jean-Sebastien Mérieux. Negotiations were ongoing with other leagues and tournaments. But he doesn't say anything more about that.

And in Switzerland?

Ask those responsible for Swiss professional football, the Swiss Football League. VAR was introduced in the Premier League in 2019. However, in the Challenge League, introduction has not been an issue so far, primarily for cost reasons, as stated in a written answer.

The referee looks at the screen


Premier League video evidence costs around 1.5 million francs a year.

Keystone/Gian Ehrenzler

The Dartfish project is not known in detail. For this reason we cannot go into the matter in more detail. “But a significant portion of the costs that will be incurred by implementing VAR technology in the second-highest league are independent of the technical system.” For example, additional staff costs for 180 matches.

Then there's the camera standard: “Four out of five Challenge League matches are now produced using just one TV camera, making it impossible to use VAR with any system.” FIFA allows the use of “VAR light” technology equipped with four to eight cameras for smaller leagues, but this is far from the current standard in the second-highest Swiss league.

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