Potential Ban on VAR Offsides at Euro 2024 Due to Legal Dispute with Tech Firm

Potential Ban on VAR Offsides at Euro 2024 Due to Legal Dispute with Tech Firm

Euro 2024 is on the horizon, set to kick off in Germany in just three weeks. However, a significant controversy has emerged that might impact the tournament.

Reports suggest that Video Assistant Referee (VAR) offsides could be banned from the competition due to an ongoing legal battle involving UEFA and a technology firm.

This development comes as a surprise and adds an unexpected layer of uncertainty to the upcoming tournament.

Legal Battle Over VAR Technology

The heart of the issue lies in a lawsuit filed by Dutch tech company Ballinno against UEFA and German ball-tracking experts Kinexon. Ballinno alleges that UEFA has used its patented technology without authorization.

Specifically, Ballinno claims that they hold a patent for a ‘method and system for detecting an offside situation,’ which they secured back in 2011.

This system involves placing a chip in the football to alert referees via earpiece when a player is offside.

Upcoming Court Hearing

The legal proceedings are set to commence on June 3, just 11 days before the tournament begins.

Despite Ballinno making initial contact about their claim last year and officially filing the application five weeks ago, the timing of this court date is critical.

If the court grants Ballinno’s injunction, UEFA might be forced to abandon the VAR offside system for Euro 2024.

UEFA’s Response

UEFA has remained relatively calm about the situation. A spokesperson commented, “We cannot comment as such on ongoing litigation matters.

However, UEFA is not overly concerned by Ballinno’s application.” This statement suggests that UEFA is confident in their legal standing or prepared to handle the fallout if the court rules in Ballinno’s favor.

Impact on Other Competitions

The legal dispute will not affect the FA Cup and Champions League finals, which are set to conclude before the court hearing.

Thus, these high-profile matches will proceed with the usual use of VAR technology.

Broader Implications for VAR

This legal battle occurs amidst broader discussions about the future of VAR in football. Last month, Premier League clubs voted to introduce semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) for the next season.

This new technology, which was praised for its efficiency during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, is expected to reduce decision times by 30 seconds.

However, it will not be ready for the start of the 2024-25 season and is planned for introduction after one of the international breaks later in the year.

Controversy Over VAR in the Premier League

The use of VAR has been contentious, with clubs like Wolverhampton Wanderers advocating for its complete removal.

Frustrated by several decisions that went against them this season, Wolves’ owner Jeff Shi argued that VAR should be scrapped to “preserve the magic of the game we fell in love with.”

This proposal will be voted on at a shareholders’ meeting next month, requiring 14 out of the 20 Premier League clubs to vote against VAR for it to be abolished.

Conclusion

As Euro 2024 approaches, the potential ban on VAR offsides introduces a significant variable that could affect the tournament’s integrity and fairness.

The legal battle between Ballinno and UEFA highlights ongoing issues surrounding technology in football and its implementation.

Whether or not VAR offsides will be used in the tournament remains to be seen, but this situation underscores the complexities and controversies that modern football technology continues to generate.

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