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How video review could operate at the World Cup

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ZURICH (AP) Video review is going to help referees at the World Cup, bringing soccer’s biggest event into line with U.S. pro sports.

FIFA’s rule-making panel voted on Saturday to update the game’s 155-year-old laws and allow for video assistant referees (VAR).

It clears FIFA to adopt VAR for the World Cup in Russia at a meeting of its ruling council on March 16.

Trials in competitions worldwide, including top European leagues in Germany and Italy, have provoked controversies.

Reviews have been slower than promised – sometimes lasting minutes – and communication inside stadiums is often confusing.

Still, FIFA President Gianni Infantino believes soccer cannot ignore a chance to make more accurate decisions.

Here are some things to know about soccer’s embrace of high-tech help for referees:


To correct “clear and obvious errors” and “serious missed incidents.”

This means incidents involving goals scored, the award of penalty kicks, red cards, and cases of referees showing cards to the wrong player.

FIFA focused on these four potential game-changing situations before live trials began in 2016.

The rules panel, known as IFAB, clarified the phrase “serious missed incidents” introduced on Saturday typically refers to violent off-the-ball clashes that were always open to review.


There is two-way communication between the referee on the field and the VAR, who is also a qualified referee and watches play in real-time and replays on a bank of television screens.

Referees can discreetly ask for an opinion, and a VAR can offer advice. Players, coaches and fans need not know an incident is being checked.

If an incident is formally reviewed, the referee should signal it on the field making the sign of a TV screen with his hands.

FIFA wants referees to let a phase of play continue before stopping the action for review.

If an offside is suspected, referee assistants are advised to delay raising their flag and let play unfold. A goal that stems from an offside position can be overruled, but a promising attack is lost if it was wrongly halted too soon.

The natural breaks in play after a goal is scored, a penalty kick is awarded, or a red card is shown, all allow VAR time to review the action.


FIFA and IFAB insist the referee on the field has ultimate authority which should not be compromised.

Therefore, the referee must have access to a TV screen near the touchline to personally review an incident.

This way, players will respect the referee for controlling his decision, FIFA refereeing chairman Pierluigi Collina said on Saturday.


FIFA says research from around 1,000 games in live trials shows that accuracy of decisions improved – from around 93 percent to 98.8 percent.

VAR has not entirely eliminated clear errors. However, FIFA-appointed researchers say they happen once in every 19 games instead of in every third game.


Infantino acknowledged VAR “is not perfect” yet and a final protocol detailing how it should operate has not been published.

Communication between referees and teams, and to fans in stadiums, has been a problem in trials. Fans have often not known why reviews are called for, nor why they take so long.

Frustration has built because the flow of soccer also does not lend itself to review stoppages, nor can referees broadcast their decision.

FIFA knows it must give World Cup teams, fans and broadcasters more information.

However, it does not mean replaying incidents on stadium big screens during a review.

Instead, FIFA is working to publish messages quickly on the screens, technology innovations director Johannes Holzmueller said.

Only after the referee takes a final decision will a selected replay be broadcast in the stadium.


FIFA expects to sign contracts by mid-May with technology providers equipping the overall VAR system.

A control center for specialist VAR teams needs to be fitted out with hardware in Moscow, at the same base where international broadcasters will run their World Cup operations.

Holzmueller said a back-up room needs to be equipped at each of the 12 stadiums across Russia.

Around 15 companies have worked with FIFA in trials. A strong contender is the Hawk-Eye system from Britain widely used in tennis’ and soccer’s goal-line technology.

A separate contract will oversee communications directly linking referees to VARs. Software deals could focus on a specific detail such as on-screen graphics to calibrating the offside line.

AP World Cup coverage:

Relegation rivals react to big day at the bottom

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It was another big day at the bottom of the Premier League table.

Crystal Palace moved out of relegation zone with a win at relegation rivals Huddersfield, while Stoke City suffered a damaging defeat at home to Everton in the snow and Bournemouth fought back late on to seal a dramatic win against basement boys West Brom.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

Below is a look at the contrasting emotions of the relegation rivals after Saturday’s three early games in the Premier League.

West Brom led 1-0 at Bournemouth but Alan Pardew‘s side conceded two late goals from outside the box to lose 2-1 and they’re now 10 points from safety with seven games to go. The Baggies are all but certain of being relegated.

“It is just tough for us, we have had one of those seasons when nothing has gone right for us. The players have worked so hard, it is hard to look them in the eye when they haven’t got anything for it. They are walking out of here injured animals because they didn’t deserve it,” Pardew said. “We are not getting the results and that is the business we are in. I have to take responsibility for that. It is more and more difficult [to stay up] as the games tick by. It is just galling. It was a really committed effort to get something.”

Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace won 2-0 at Huddersfield to move out of of the bottom three as the Eagles ended a run of seven games without a win. Wilfried Zaha‘s return made a big difference and Hodgson believes the away win at Huddersfield was a big moment in their season.

“It is vitally important. All the points teams get down near the bottom are vitally appoint. We have had a difficult run of games and not got any points but to get something here at least puts us back in some sort of equilibrium,” Hodgson said. “I don’t think I have ever had a feeling we are on a slide. We are getting players back to fitness and our squad is looking like what it was when we were getting results.”

Everton moved onto the magic 40-point marker after winning at 10-man Stoke City and Sam Allardyce believes they’re now safe from relegation and he can start planning for next season as Cenk Tosun made it four goals in his last three games.

“Under the circumstances we are extremely pleased. Considering the elements both teams competed with today they’ve given everything – even Stoke after they went down to 10 men,” Allardyce said. “It looked a bit iffy for us again but Cenk popped up with a super goal and that’s why we bought him. It’s paid dividends for us and it puts us on the 40-point mark, and even though mathematically we are not safe I don’t think anyone can catch us now and we can start to prepare for next season.”

Huddersfield boss David Wagner didn’t seem too worried about his team moving just two points above the relegation zone with seven games to go and other teams have games in hand around them.

“Credit to Crystal Palace; they deserved this win. We were below par, particularly with the ball. There’s no doubt about our attitude and effort – we fought – but in ball possession, we were not good enough,” Wagner said. “We were two steps too late today. It’s important how you manage defeats and a disappointment like today. The good thing is that we know what we have done wrong and what we need to put right.”

Stoke City manager Paul Lambert didn’t have any complaints about Charlie Adam being sent off in the first half of their defeat against Everton.

The Potters now have an incredibly tough run of games coming up and time is running out as they second from bottom in the PL table.

“I couldn’t ask more for the effort. We had 10-men for most of the game and got ourselves back into it. It’s a disappointing result but effort, I couldn’t have asked for anymore,” Lambert added.

VIDEO: Salah scores sublime goal for Liverpool

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Mohamed Salah is at it again.

After two games without a goal (a serious drought by his standards) it took Salah less than four minutes to give Liverpool the lead against Watford at Anfield.

The Egyptian wizard danced past multiple Watford defenders before slotting home a cool finish for his 25th goal in the Premier League this season.

Salah has now scored 33 goals in 41 games for Liverpool and his incredible season continue.

Watch his latest moment of magic, here.

Bournemouth 2-1 West Brom: Cherries fight back

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  • Late goals from Ibe, Stanislas seal comeback
  • West Brom 1 win in last 28 games
  • Baggies 10 points from safety

Bournemouth launched a late comeback to beat West Brom 2-1 at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.

West Brom led through Jay Rodriguez but two spectacular goals late on from Jordon Ibe and Junior Stanislas sparked a dramatic comeback.

With the win Bournemouth move into 11th on 36 points, while West Brom stay bottom on 20 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

West Brom started well and Salomon Rondon’s header was saved by Asmir Begovic after good work down the right from Allan Nyom.

Rodriguez then forced Begovic into another save and Bournemouth were forced into a defensive change as Simon Francis was replaced by Charlie Daniels.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Some hefty challenges flew in as both sets of players were fired up and ready for battle, with Josh King going down in the box at one end and Rondon at the other end as the Venezuelan also forced Begovic into another save.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Early in the second half West Brom went ahead as Kieran Gibbs‘ cross found Rondon who nodded down and Rodriguez finished to breath new life into the Baggies’ survival hopes. Or so they thought…

Junior Stanislas put a free kick just over as Bournemouth started to turn the key and soon they were level. Ibe spanked a shot in from distance which skipped into the far corner to make it 1-1, then came Stanislas’ heroics.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

The winger curled home a sumptuous free kick to make it 2-1 and send the home fans wild as Bournemouth’s Premier League status was all but secured for another season.

Watch Live: Liverpool v. Watford

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Liverpool host Watford at Anfield on Saturday (1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via with Jurgen Klopp‘s men aiming to go third in the Premier League table.


With Liverpool’s other top four rivals Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea all in FA Cup action this weekend, this is a chance for the Reds to give themselves some breathing space.

Javi Gracia and Watford know the pressure is off as they sit in 10th place in the table and they will see this game as a free hit.

In team news Liverpool bring in Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Georginio Wijnaldum come into the starting lineup.

Watford bring in Britos for Janmaat.