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Kuala Lumpur: History will be made this year as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) prepares to introduce the Additional Assistant Referee (AAR) system for the first time in Asia during the AFC Champions League quarter-final clash on August 21, 2017.

The AAR system, which will be implemented from the last eight to the eagerly-anticipated final, aims to strengthen the support for referees and enhance the decision-making process, particularly in the penalty and goal-line area.

In operational terms, the referee, two referee assistants and fourth official will now be joined by two AARs, who will be positioned along the goal-line in each half. The use of the AAR was approved by the AFC Referees Committee in September, with the ambition to ensure that Asian referees continue to feature prominently on the world’s biggest stages.

The AFC has set out its Vision and Mission to be the world’s leading Confederation and this new initiative further underlines its aspirations under the banner of One Asia, One Goal. To ensure Asia's referees are updated on the latest regulations involving the new system, the AFC organised the first AAR course in Doha, Qatar, in March 2017, which comprised both theoretical training and on-the-field simulations.

The five-day course, which enabled the continent’s top officials to glean insights from FIFA Head of Refereeing Massimo Busacca, covered the concepts and protocols of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, as well as the roles and responsibilities of referee coaches. It was the first time all three components, including the AAR system, were included in the same programme.

Looking to the 2018 season, the AFC will continue to study the findings and benefits of the AAR system with plans in the pipeline to explore extending its use in the 2018 AFC Cup, AFC U-23 Championship China 2017 and ultimately during the continent’s crowning jewel – the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 – if the system proves successful this year.

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Photo: AFC

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