If you were bothered by the use of video-assistant referees (VAR) during the just-completed 2017 Confederations Cup, you might want to take a break from international soccer next summer.
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FIFA president Gianni Infantino has stated in no uncertain terms that the plan, as of this moment 347 days before the start of the 2018 World Cup, is for the VAR system to once again be in place in Russia. Infantino has in the past said he intends for VAR to be used at the World Cup, a stance which he reaffirmed this weekend — quotes from the Guardian:
“Nothing is standing in the way of using VARs [at the World Cup], as far as I’m concerned. So far it has been successful. We are learning, we are improving, we are continuing the tests.”
“Without the VARs, we would have had a different [Confederations Cup]. And a tournament which would have been a little less fair.”
“We need to work still on some of the details, on the communication and the speed of the decisions being taken.”
As is the case with all change of such magnitude, it’s going to take some getting used to, but the reality of the situation is increasingly clear: VAR is here to stay. Various domestic leagues around the world, including MLS, will begin using the system next month, and Infantino remains the most vocal, highest-ranking proponent of VAR to date.
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It’s the last bit from Infantino’s quote which would go a long way to swaying a majority of the holdovers who think technology shouldn’t be used to make in-game decisions. The process of reviewing and making a decision with the aid of VAR was quick, clear and accurate on so few occasions during the Confederations Cup. That feels like something that’ll be refined through repetition, but it better come quick — these next 11.5 months are going to fly by.