MLS to trial video review technology ahead of 2016 season

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Major League Soccer is proud of its history of being at the forefront of new innovations in the soccer world, and it will once again become a guinea pig in October.

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League officials have confirmed that video reviews will be coming to friendly games between MLS teams in October, as the rest of the world will look on with intrigue.

Following the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) having their hopes of trialing the technology turned down by FIFA earlier this year, MLS has now found a way to test it out, even if it is in friendly games.

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The Times in the UK spoke to MLS’ vice-president of competition Jeff Agoos about the possibility of trialing video reviews, and he had some interesting things to say about how the technology could be implemented and the league have confirmed that its owners are all on board with the trial and if FIFA allows it, video reviews would come in for the 2016 MLS season in March.

The three key areas video technology will look at in this trial will be: penalty kicks, red cards and awarding goals. How long would these stoppage for video reviews take? The Dutch study wanted to give refs a 15-second period to review TV footage, but Agoos believes that could be too limiting.

“In all those cases, there is a natural stoppage,” Agoos said. “Our findings show there is ample time to give information to the referee. Depending on the incident, there can be from 40 seconds to well over a minute, plenty of time to review a decision.”

“We are huge proponents of using technology to improve the game without disrupting the flow. It’s about marrying those two things. Ultimately, we believe the referee should have as much, if not more, information than the fan who goes to the game. At the moment the fan has more on his smartphone. We don’t think that makes sense.”

Since goal-line technology was introduced at the 2014 World Cup and then into the Premier League for the 2014-15 season, there have been no problems and the flow of the game has not been impacted at all at the elite level of soccer around the globe. We can all agree on that, right?

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Now, the next step is trickier as video reviews for referees would be even harder for purists out there to accept. But if there is already a TV monitor by the side of the pitch and a fourth official or referee has access to it, would it really take that long for the officials to have a quick check on a game-changing penalty kick call they aren’t sure of or a red card for an elbow they want to get another look at?

Let’s see how it works in 10-15 MLS friendlies at the end of this season, as the league which brought you the foam spray for free kicks long before it became cool once again has the chance to help shape the future of officiating in soccer.