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Spanish Super Cup: Spain gives VAR its debut in Tangier

The Spanish season officially kicks off tonight (or does it?) with a Super Cup not short on novelty: it'll be a one-off tie (that hasn't happened since the far-off days when it was still called the Copa Eva Duarte Perón), it'll be held outside of Spain (in Tangier, a good choice in my opinion) and VAR will get its official debut in our domestic game. The people at Ifab now feel we've got in enough practice (under the guidance of referees' chief Carlos Velasco Carballo, the indefatigable figurehead of 'project VAR' in Spain, it has been used in a number of friendlies) and today's game, which is to be whistled by Carlos del Cerro Grande, will - in the form of Jesús Gil Manzano and his team of video assistants - come complete with the safety net.

Now that it faces what is, for us, the acid test of submitting itself to the not-unbiased judgement of a jury that brings with it all its local fixations and hang-ups, it's worth explaining again exactly how VAR works. The referee has the final say. If the video ref (who'll be a match official of the same category and whose identity will always be made known) reckons something big has been missed, they'll let their colleague know; but it's down to the latter whether or not to take a look at the replay and see if a call has to be reconsidered. And let me reiterate: VAR is there to correct clear and obvious errors, and only deals with goals, penalties, sendings-off and cases of mistaken identity. The aim is to interrupt the play only occasionally.

Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz during a VAR review in a pre-season friendly between Valencia and Bayer Leverkusen.
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Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz during a VAR review in a pre-season friendly between Valencia and Bayer Leverkusen.BIEL ALIÑOEFE

That the video-review system is to be given a maiden outing in this Super Cup, coupled with the fact that the clash is being played in Tangier, is to me an indication that we have a new regime of no little agility at the FA. Now let's see if we're treated to a good game, as Lionel Messi's Barcelona (we'll have to find out what kind of nick he's in after a World Cup that didn't turn out very well for him) meet a Sevilla side who, having already begun their bid to reach the Europa League group stage, have more minutes under their belt. In three days' time, we've then got the other Super Cup in Tallinn: a Madrid derby for which Real and Atlético had their final rehearsals last night. Los Blancos won courtesy of goals by Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Borja Mayoral, while Atleti drew a blank and were beaten.