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Sweden refuses to use VAR amid fan revolt

Fans react negatively to VAR
Throughout Europe, fans often react negatively to VAR - Getty Images/Marc Atkins

Sweden has become the first country to refuse to use Video Assistant Referees following a fan revolt against its introduction.

The president of the Swedish Football Association, Fredrik Reinfeldt, confirmed VAR would not be implemented in its competitions, having previously proclaimed the system “our future”.

The climbdown reflects Swedish clubs being at least 51 per cent fan-owned and fierce resistance among supporters to VAR’s introduction.

Reinfeldt, the former prime minister of Sweden, told Aftonbladet more than half of the top 32 teams opposed VAR.

He said: “If I counted correctly, we have 18 elite clubs and two districts that have said they do not want to introduce VAR. We respect that.

“That’s why we didn’t bring forward any proposal about VAR to the previous board of representatives meeting and I don’t foresee it in the future either. I stand by respecting the democratic rules of the game.”

Reinfeldt had warned a year ago Swedish clubs could be forced to use VAR in their home matches in Uefa competitions. But he said that threat had receded.

“I don’t think so now, from what I’ve heard,” he added. “So then it is up to us to make the decision. Then it is clear how it looks right now – the clubs do not want the introduction of this specific technology.”

The Swedish Professional Football Leagues group said last summer it would campaign against VAR being trialled this autumn.

Its general secretary, Johan Lindvall, said at the time: “Sweden is currently the only country among Europe’s 30 highest-ranked leagues that has not decided to introduce VAR.

“The fact that we have not done so is largely due to our democratic model. We are proud of our club democracy and we must protect it.”

The introduction of VAR in Norway last year prompted protests from more than 70 fans’ groups.

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