Lawmakers Approve Video Technology Trials

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Infantino attended the Swansea v Norwich City Premier League match on Saturday (Getty)
(WFI) Football's lawmakers have approved testing of video technology to aid referees in a "landmark decision".

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) made the decision at its meeting on Saturday in Cardiff, UK. The technology will undergo two years of testing at the latest from the 2017/18 season before any final decision about introducing the technology is taken.

"We have taken really a historic decision for football," FIFA president Gianni Infantino told a press conference. "FIFA and IFAB are now leading the debate and not stopping the debate. We have shown we are listening to the fans, players, to football.”

Infantino added: "The flow of the game of football is crucial and we have to see what kind of impact technology and video technology in particular will have on the flow of the game, which we can never put in danger.”

The IFAB approved a set of protocols for the experiments and agreed they should be conducted for a minimum of two years “ to identify the advantages, disadvantages and worst-case scenarios”.

“The expectation is not to achieve 100 percent accuracy in decisions for every single incident, but to avoid clearly incorrect decisions that are pre-defined “game-changing” situations – goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents and mistaken identity,” FIFA said in a statement.

The experiment will involve a video assistant referee having access to video replays during the match and either reviewing an incident on request by the referee or communicating with the referee about an incident that he/she may have missed.

The experiments will be managed and overseen by the IFAB with the support of FIFA. A university will be commissioned to conduct a research study, which will focus on refereeing and also on the impact on the game itself “including the emotions of the stakeholders”.

Board members plan to meet with interested competition organisers and FIFA in the coming weeks in order to define a schedule for the next two years. This will include a pre-testing phase with an experiment done in a controlled ‘non-live’ environment as well as referee trainings, workshops and onsite preparation for experiments to be implemented in two testing phases across a number of competitions/leagues.

FIFA’s “landmark decision” on video technology comes in the wake of the introduction of goal-line technology, which is already implemented in a number of world leagues and stadiums.

Also discussed by football’s lawmakers at the weekend was the so-called “triple punishment” of sending off, penalty and suspension for the denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity within the penalty area.

After a long debate, the IFAB revised new wording for Law 12 as submitted by UEFA and agreed it should be implemented globally for a two-year trial from June. Players will be yellow-carded rather than sent off if there is a genuine attempt to play the ball in the box but the opposing player is fouled.

The IFAB also agreed to allow experimentation with a fourth substitution in extra time within a competition/league(s) still to be decided on.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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