Major League Soccer to Host Workshop on Video Assistant Referee Experiments

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The second workshop on experiments with video assistant referees (VARs) in football will be hosted by Major League Soccer (MLS) from 19 to 21 July in New Jersey, USA.

It follows on from the kick-off workshop in the Netherlands in May, when interested competition organisers found out more about the requirements they need to meet in order to take part in the two-year trial overseen by The IFAB.

The three-day workshop will be attended by more than 20 leagues and associations from across the globe. MLS is one of a number of competitions in six countries already confirmed to take part in the experiments, while others will be joining the meeting to learn more about the VAR protocol and the practical implications before taking a final decision.

The focus will be on the use of VARs in a “live” environment. Through presentations and practical demonstrations in match settings at Red Bull Arena, attendees will learn more about how the referees should communicate with each other to take decisions on the four match-changing incidents included in the experiment protocol.

Also on the agenda is referee education, which is a crucial part of the current preparation phase as The IFAB looks to guide all participants to achieve consistent trials.

“Offline” experiments – ones in which VARs can familiarise themselves with the setup, assess video replays and practice making calls but without communicating with the referee – are due to start this year. In addition, The IFAB and FIFA may select matches or tournaments where VARs will be used live, such as friendly matches within those countries that are participating or the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in December this year, which could serve as a dress rehearsal before The IFAB authorises participants to conduct live tests in 2017.

The IFAB – the independent body authorised to decide and agree on changes to the Laws of the Game in consultation with the football community – will supervise each experiment with the support of FIFA’s Football Technology Innovation Department. This is set to include a research study involving the participating competition organisers, technology providers and a selected independent institute or university to focus not only on the refereeing outcomes but also the effect on the game itself, including the impressions of the various stakeholders.

The decision from The IFAB on whether or not VARs should be introduced in football could be taken in 2018 at the earliest or in 2019 at the latest. 

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