FIFA approves video assistant referees for 2018 World Cup

Category: Info

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From: SportTechie
Author: Logan Bradley

Match officals pose with FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Last year MLS commissioner Don Garber expressed frustration over FIFA’s resistance to new technology, saying it prevents a greater experience for fans and players alike. It appears FIFA’s outlook may have changed, at least when it comes to using technology to correct officiating mistakes. The organization approved use of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) on its biggest stage — this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

“What we want is to help and to give the referee the possibility to have extra help when he has to make important decisions,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino in a statement. “In a World Cup we make very important decisions. It cannot be possible that in 2018 everybody, in the stadium or at home, knows in a few seconds if the referee has made a mistake but not the referee himself – not because he doesn’t want to know about it but because we forbid him to know.”

Here’s what you need to know:

-Rigorous testing of VAR has been done during live matches. Australia’s A-League completed more than a dozen trial runs with the technology and numerous times it proved helpful. In one instance a hand ball was missed by the referee but was spotted upon further review using VAR.

-There will be multiple uses of the video review: to check the validity of a goal or penalty, make decisions on red cards and to decide whether a player has been “mistakenly sanctioned.”

-Europe’s governing body, UEFA, is one of the few remaining organizations to express opposition to VAR.

SportTechie Takeaway:

While plenty of testing has been done, using VAR at the World Cup will be the biggest test of all. Many are still skeptical (such as the aforementioned UEFA) and have concerns about slowing down the pace of play. It’s similar to concerns that have been raised about video review in sports such as baseball and American football.

Infantino suggests each review will take no more than a minute. If that’s the case, and they’re still able to correct mistakes, he thinks “we have done something good.” FIFA’s chief has consistently been a proponent of VAR, citing the “phantom goal” that ousted the US from the World Cup qualifying rounds as among the biggest reasons that the sport needs replay review.




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