BARI, Italy (AP) In 10 seconds, Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers got all the feedback he wanted from the two assistants examining video replays in a truck outside the stadium.
Instead of sending off France defender Djibril Sidibe for a hard foul into the left leg of Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi three minutes into a friendly, Kuipers pulled out a yellow card instead.
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It’s exactly what FIFA was hoping for from video assistance tests for referees – keeping interruptions to a minimum and maintaining the flow of play.
“The feedback I got in just 10 seconds convinced me to give a yellow instead of sending off the player,” Kuipers said Friday, a day after France’s 3-1 win.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino hopes “video assistant referees” will be used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“Last night a page of football history was written,” said Infantino, who attended the match in Bari. “Finally, after years of words, we’ve moved on to facts.”
Experiments are also being held in national club competitions this season, including Australia’s A-League, the Bundesliga, the league and cups in Portugal, Major League Soccer, and Serie A.
Video replay officiating would be restricted to decisions on goals being scored, penalties being awarded, players being sent off, and cases of mistaken identity.
The only technology currently used in soccer is to rule on disputed goals.
“We can no longer allow the entire world to see something big where the only one who can’t see it, because it’s not permitted, is the referee,” Infantino said.
Kuipers also relied on video assistance when Italy protested for a perceived handball by Layvin Kurzawa following a header from De Rossi in the first half.
“I noticed that the players accepted the decisions more calmly,” Kuipers said. “It’s better for everyone, even for the refs so they’re calmer and surer of themselves.”
The test was considered “semi-live” because Kuipers did not review any replays on the field.
FIFA has not introduced on-site screen reviewing yet. Instead, Kuipers was assisted through radio communications.
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Getting back to the Sidibe foul, Kuiper recounted how Italy’s players were demanding a red card.
“So I had the moment to speak to the VAR, he gave me the input to give a yellow and the players accepted it,” Kuipers said. “(Giorgio) Chiellini for example said, `Clear rosso, rosso (red),’ and I said, `It’s a yellow card. It’s enough.’ So they accept it and it’s finished.”