NWSL: VAR goes into effect for 2023 season

Referee Tori Penso speaks to players.
Referee Tori Penso speaks to players during a Philadelphia Union and New England Revolution MLS game at Subaru Park on May 12, 2021. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

The Professional Referee Organization (PRO) confirmed the NWSL’s plans to use a video assistant referee (VAR) system during the league’s 2023 season.

The NWSL already announced plans to use VAR after its board of governors met in July. But now the decision is closer to reality, following PRO’s official announcement on November 26.

“We have devised a comprehensive program of training,” said PRO general manager Howard Webb. “[We are] utilizing the expertise we have within our organization to ensure everyone is certified in time for the start of the NWSL season.”

PRO is already familiar with video review—having introduced VAR to MLS in 2017. But now, the organization has the honor of making the NWSL the first women’s league in the world to use a VAR system for an entire season.

Fans will start seeing VAR during the NWSL’s 2023 preseason. Then, full-time video review will launch on March 25, when the league begins its 11th season.

“Video review is here to reduce the number of key errors, and it will do that,” said Webb. “That is why NWSL is making a significant investment in bringing video operations into this country’s top division of women’s soccer, and PRO is looking forward to supporting its implementation.”

Because PRO oversees the NWSL VAR system, it will operate as it does for MLS. VARs and AVARs will work out of Hawk-Eye Innovations’ stateside facilities in Atlanta, Georgia.

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