The video assistant referee (Var) will be featured in the knockout phase of the Women’s Champions League next season, UEFA has announced.
Previously rolled out only for the finals, the introduction of the Var is one of many sweeping changes that will take effect for the 2021-22 season following the approval of a revamped financial model for the competition.
It will see the world’s largest women’s club competition redistribute € 24million (£ 20.8million) to women’s football across Europe, which is more than four times the current figure.
The increased investment has been made possible by the centralization of sponsorship and media rights from the group stage, meaning that teams participating in these tours will be guaranteed a minimum of € 400,000 (£ 350,000 ). For context, this is at least five times more than the sums paid to teams reaching the equivalent stage – the knockout stages – in the competition at the moment. The winner could earn up to € 1.4million (£ 1.2million), depending on his results throughout the competition.
New regulations protecting the welfare of female players who become mothers will also be introduced, with clubs having more flexibility to change their squad lists to temporarily replace players who are pregnant or due to maternity leave.
In a major effort to make women’s football more sustainable, solidarity payments will be distributed to non-participating clubs, with amounts calculated based on the top performing teams that represent their respective national leagues.
UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin said the changes represented a “giant leap for football” which would “strengthen” all of women’s professional football across Europe.
He added: “The development of women’s football should not be driven by short-term gain. but a long-term vision.
“Thanks to the solidarity payments at the heart of this project and the increased rewards, every last euro generated by the Women’s Champions League and more will return to the women’s game.”