Video assistant referees (VAR) will be used at all 52 matches at this month’s Africa Cup of Nations for the first time. The 2019 edition in Egypt saw the technology introduced from the quarter-finals by the organisers, the Confederation of African Football (Caf).
“With Caf advancing with plans not only to improve the image of refereeing but also produce world-class match officials in Africa, the implementation of VAR in all 52 matches is a step in the right direction,” said a Caf statement.
For the second successive tournament, the tournament will have 24 participants. That means six groups of four, with the top two qualifying for the last 16 alongside the four best-ranked third-placed sides.
Caf has selected 24 referees, 31 assistant referees and eight video assistant referees from 36 countries for the tournament in Cameroon, with Rwandan referee Salima Mukansanga among four female officials.
Two officials from North and Central American and Caribbean football confederation Concacaf, Guatemalan referee Mario Escobar and Mexican VAR official Fernando Guerrero will also be included as part of an inter-confederation skills exchange program.
Meanwhile, the winners will now receive prize money of $5mn, which is an increase of $500,000 from 2019. The runners-up will get $2.75mn, while beaten semi-finalists and quarter-finalists will receive $2.2mn and $1.175m respectively, helping boost the total increase in prize money from 2019 to $1.85mn.
After multiple postponements and fears of an outright cancellation, the Africa Cup of Nations finally kicks off in Cameroon on January 9 and will end on February 6, 2022. (BBC)