Derby VAR 

Tehran Times - Iranian football fans were not impressed by the quality of the Tehran derby, and the use of VAR couldn't prevent both teams from disputing the referee's decisions.

The cheers of the passionate crowd echoed through the Azadi Stadium as Persepolis and Esteghlal football teams played to a 1-1 draw in the 2023/24 Iran's Persian Gulf Pro League (PGPL) on Thursday.

Despite the intense competition and the need for a win, the critical game concluded with a boring draw. On the other side, Sepahan’s victory over Foolad in Isfahan allowed them to narrow the gap to just one point from the top of the standings, with one game in hand.

The 102nd derby was a lackluster match, with little excitement or action to be seen. From the very beginning of the game, Esteghlal's strategy was evident - focusing on defensive play and creating chances through long passes. Despite Persepolis had the ball possession, and struggled to make chances against Esteghlal's solid defensive line.

The entry of Omid Alishah in the second half breathed new life into Persepolis, making the game more thrilling. This player had a significant presence in the second half, appearing in two crucial scenes. The cheers of the crowd echoed through the stadium as he scored the Reds’ goal and narrowly missed another incredible shot towards the Blue's goal.


The Iranian domestic games saw the debut of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in this match.

Instead of alleviating tensions, the VAR made the game longer and did not stop coaches and players from objecting to referee, Mooud Bonyadifar.

With the assistance of VAR, the referee made three crucial decisions that left fans and viewers breathless.

Despite not recognizing any of these scenes as a penalty during the game, Bonyadifar eventually awarded a penalty to Esteghlal in injury time after a VAR review, following a foul on Esteghlal midfielder Arash Rezavand by Persepolis defender Ali Nemati.

Kevin Yamga successfully converted his penalty to secure a 1-1 draw.

In interviews following the game, both Persepolis coach Yahya Golmohammadi and Esteghlal coach Javad Nekounam expressed their belief that the referee made errors against their teams, despite VAR's involvement.

It seems that the effectiveness of VAR in Iranian football relies on the referees making decisive calls on controversial scenes and it depends on whether the fans and coaching staffs accept this decision or not.