Tobias Stieler (c.) and the VAR were at the centre of attention in the opening game of the 2017/18 Bundesliga season. - © © imago
Tobias Stieler (c.) and the VAR were at the centre of attention in the opening game of the 2017/18 Bundesliga season. - © © imago

Video Assistant Referee an instant hit on Bundesliga debut


The opening fixture of the 55th Bundesliga season witnessed a refereeing revolution which can already go down as a resounding success.

In Bayern Munich's 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen, the new Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was used a total of 12 times – seven in the first half and five in the second half – lending the main match official Tobias Stieler an invaluable hand at the Allianz Arena.

Dr Jochen Drees oversaw the action with the help of several screens showing instant replays, and he was able to give Stieler an audible thumbs up on 11 occasions. The other intervention saw history in the making, as Stieler signalled that the VAR had - on his request - reviewed a foul by Charles Aranguiz on Robert Lewandowski inside the penalty area. An incident which would otherwise have gone unpunished was corrected to allow Bayern to open up a three-goal lead.

Technology enabled a mistake to be avoided and, in just 36 seconds, his decision was overturned. Fans inside the Allianz Arena waited excitedly as the decision was relayed to them by the referee's gestures, accompanied by messages on the giant screen.

Watch: Stieler discusses the VAR debut

"We're delighted that the collaboration between the referee on the pitch and the video assistant worked so well on this premiere," said German Football League (DFL) director Ansgar Schwenken. "That was also the case in how quickly the decision was taken in the dubious situation which led to the penalty. This first example of video evidence in the Bundesliga will certainly have helped contribute to the spectators at home and in the stadium understanding and accepting this new technology."

The German Football Association's (DFB) head of refereeing and VAR project leader Hellmut Krug added: "We're delighted with how things went in this opening match. The communication between the referee and the video assistant was flawless. We reached quick and precise decisions in the relevant incidents and our intense preparation work has paid off. Now we want to latch onto this positive start."

- © gettyimages / Guenter Schiffmann

The VAR will be implemented in all 306 Bundesliga matches this season in an attempt to eradicate major mistakes and ensure more fairness in the game. The VAR can be called upon in one of four situations: goals, incidents inside the penalty area, red card decisions and mistaken identity.

The VARs sit in the so-called video assist centre in Cologne, where they have access to all camera angles available for each match. They are in constant direct link with the referee of each match in a pioneering project by the DFL and DFB.

Follow all the Bundesliga Matchday 1 goals as they go in, live!

- © imago