Video Assistance for Referees Set for English Premier League

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Soccerex Global Convention is in Manchester this week (WFI)
(WFI) Video technology is almost certain to be introduced in the English Premier League and other countries from 2018 onwards, according to the operations director of the Dutch FA.

Gijs De Jong was speaking at the Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester about the benefits of trialling video assistance for referees in cup competitions in the Netherlands.

Goal-line technology is now used across the world in FIFA competitions and several leagues. De Jong believes it is only a matter of time before video replays for contentious incidents in matches are used to help officials in the English top-flight and other leagues.

"I am sure we will see video assistance in the Premier League in a few years,” he said. “No doubt. We are very confident about the [video assistant] process. IFAB has said that it needs further consideration and that's where we are now." He was referring to football's rulemaking body, the International Football Association Board.

"In 2011 in the KNVB [Dutch federation] we had an internal brainstorming session about how can we support the referees more than we do now. We hear a lot of complaints about refereeing decisions but we do not help them with all the materials available.

"With all the smartphones everyone can see the information within seconds - everyone except the people who need to make the decisions on the pitch.

"Goal-line technology has been in the Premier League since last year and since this season also in Germany, Italy and France. We have it for our cup finals in Holland but we want to move it all forward by the use of video replays. We can improve the fairness of the game."

De Jong’s prediction may be some years away though. Should UEFA president Michel Platini succeed in his bid to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA chief at next February's election, the use of video technology may be taken off the agenda. The Frenchman is a long-standing critic of it, preferring instead to adopt a policy of positioning two extra officials behind the goal.

The video assistant has the benefit of six in-stadium cameras providing 3D vision of the pitch, as well as time delayed screens. Should a contentious decision occur, the delayed screens can be watched or replays called up as necessary.

Decisions can be made within 11-15 seconds of the original incident.

The Dutch experiment in their cup competitions has so far seen only 12 decisions out of 1,890 corrected by the video assistant.

But former World Cup referee Howard Webb said the system was necessary in the modern, fast-moving game. "We are keen to look at anything that helps us make fewer mistakes. Certainly we would like to see this live-trialled otherwise we can never move the argument because whenever there is a big decision in the World Cup or the Premier League or wherever this argument always come up again," he told Soccerex.

"We can never reach 100 per cent accuracy but it's important to do whatever is possible to rule out obvious mistakes which sometimes mean that colleagues of mine don't get to referee at World Cups and in the other big competitions.

"I've had decisions where I would have liked the opportunity to check whether I got it right - maybe a penalty - so we are genuinely in support of it."

De Jong went on to confirm that IFAB will discuss the issue at their panel meetings in London next month.

"Common sense suggests it will be used one way or another in the near future” he added. “I think, most realistically, that live testing will be decided early next year then, if that starts for two or three years from 2016-17, the final decision will not be earlier than 2018."

Reported in Manchester by Christian Radnedge

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