Is VAR used in the FA Cup? How the technology is applied ahead of quarter-final draw

The FA have been criticised for their inconsistent use of VAR in the FA Cup, but how will the technology be used in the next round?

The FA Cup quarter-finals are fast-approaching with almost all of the fifth round ties almost over.

We have already seen Premier League clubs Chelsea, Liverpool and Southampton progress to the last eight, with Norwich City, Luton Town and West Ham United dropping out.

Crystal Palace also saw off Stoke City, while there was a huge shock with Middlesbrough dumping out Tottenham after extra-time.

Ahead of the draw, attention is already turning to the quarter-finals, but questions remain over the FA Cup’s VAR use in the competition.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the next round.

Is there VAR in the FA Cup?

VAR is used in the FA Cup, but not consistently.

Though, we will now see it used more progressively as the number of teams gets whittled down.

We are now headed for the quarter-finals, when just eight teams will remain, with most of the round five fixtures already played.

We already know we will have two Championship teams in the next round, with Middlesbrough stunning Tottenham in the fifth round.

Meanwhile, Monday night’s final fifth round tie will be between two Championship clubs in Nottingham Forest and Huddersfield Town.

That is significant, not just because of the magic of the cup, but because VAR is only used in the FA Cup where a Premier League club plays at home.

That’s because the technology is already in place for those grounds, and the FA have decided not to install the technology for one-off games.

That means Championship clubs, and indeed any clubs below that level, don’t have VAR for their home games in the FA Cup, until now.

Quarter-final changes

As of last season, The FA have licenced all ties to have VAR in place for quarter-finals ties.

That means VAR will be used in all of the last eight ties, even beyond the Premier League clubs.

The semi-finals and final were already covered anyway, with Wembley Stadium already permanently licenced for VAR use.

The rulebook

The official FA Cup rulebook has this to say about VAR: “The Association reserves the right to select any match in the Competition Proper, at its absolute discretion, in which VARs will be used.

“This means that the Referee in such matches can make decisions based on information provided by the VARs in accordance with the relevant protocol of the IFAB.

“Guidance regarding the use of VARs will be provided by The Association to the relevant Clubs at the appropriate time.”


The FA have been criticised for the partial use of VAR, with obvious questions of fairness when not all of the games are being officiated in the same way.

The FA’s response is: “VAR was introduced by The IFAB in 2017 and was subsequently trialled for two seasons in several Emirates FA Cup ties – including the semi-finals and finals – before being introduced by the Premier League for the 2019-20 season.

“The use of VAR is only permitted where the match/competition organiser has fulfilled all the VAR protocol and implementation requirements (as set out in the VAR Handbook) and has received written permission from The IFAB and FIFA.

“Only Premier League grounds are currently licenced to use the VAR technology in the third, fourth and fifth rounds of this season’s Emirates FA Cup. However, every match from the quarter-final stage onwards will be licenced to use VAR.”