(WFI) FIFA has determined that the Russia World Cup will use for the first time in the history of the tournament the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system to judge some controversial plays in a game.
Yet half of the countries whose national leagues already use that same FIFA-approved video review do not have referees selected for the World Cup.
Football’s governing body announced on Thursday a list of 36 referees and 63 assistants who will work in Russia.
Four countries whose leagues use VAR (Germany, Italy, Poland, and the United States) will indeed have match officials in Russia. However the other four countries in the world where the system is already in use – Australia, Belgium, Portugal and South Korea – won’t be represented at the World Cup
FIFA though could still add specialists on the VAR system to the final list of referees after the officials attend a two-week seminar in Italy in April.
Presently the officials selected for Russia are divided by geographical zones: 10 from Europe, two from Oceania, and six from each of the other four continental confederations.
The United States is the only country that will have two referees at the event. Mark Geiger, who also worked at the 2014 World Cup, and Jair Marrufo are the Major League Soccer officials selected.
On the other hand, the English Premier League will have no referees in Russia.
According to FIFA, each referee was selected on “skills and personality, as well as his level of understanding of football and ability to read both the game and the various tactics employed by teams.”
The governing body insists World Cup officials will be fully trained to use the video assistant referee protocol.
VAR trials started last year and thus far the system has received harsh criticism for being slow and confusing.
By INSIDER Javier Monne
Your best source of news about the global football business is World Football INSIDER