(WFI) FIFA is days away from implementing one of the most important changes to football´s 155-year-old rules.
At its next meeting on March 16 in Bogota, Colombia, the world’s football body is expected to approve the use of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) for the upcoming World Cup in Russia.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has long said World Cup referees must get high-tech help to review key decisions during the 64-game tournament.
“VAR at the World Cup will certainly help to have a fairer World Cup,” Infantino said in a recent press conference. “If there is a big mistake, it will be corrected.”
The system is designed to review goals, penalty awards, red cards, and player’s mistaken identity. Infantino said that while the current VAR system “is not perfect …[but] we have to have the ambition to get close to perfection.”
In fact, the VAR system has often created confusion in the first full season of live trials in more than 1,000 games worldwide in top divisions in Germany and Italy.
FIFA’s first use of VAR at one of its tournaments came last year at the 2017 Confederations Cup. The experience had mixed reviews. Communication was unclear during questionable plays, in which reviews lasted several minutes instead of the initial target of a few seconds. Martin Glenn, the boss of England’s Football Association, has admitted “communications to the crowd has to be better; people in the crowd aren’t sure what is happening”.
Fifa received the green light to implement VAR after the International Football’s Association Board (IFAB) voted unanimously last week in favor of including the use of new technologies in the game’s regulations.
The decision “represents a new era for football with video assistance for referees helping to increase integrity and fairness in the game,” IFAB said in a statement.
UEFA has already ruled out using VAR in the Champions league next season, and the English Premier League is waiting to guarantee that the system can prove itself reliable. .
FIFA’s historical reluctance to embrace technological help for referees started changing at the 2010 World Cup when England was not given a goal against Germany despite a Frank Lampard’s shot that clearly crossed the German goal-line. England ended up losing 4-1.
At the 2014 World Cup, FIFA deployed goal-line technology. Referees were alerted with a simple yes-no signal to their watches after multiple camera angles judged if a ball crossed the line.
If VAR is finally approved, FIFA will have to choose a technology provider from more than 10 companies currently involved in trials and workshops at the organization’s headquarters in Zurich .
By INSIDER Javier Monne
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