ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) The head of Australia’s A-League is hoping international soccer authorities will allow video-assisted referee (VAR) decisions to be shown on television broadcasts and on stadium video boards so that the often contentious calls don’t seem like a “silent movie.”
Greg O’Rourke says the A-League is working with Germany’s Bundesliga and Major League Soccer in the U.S. to push for communication of the VAR process in stadiums.
“American sport and Australian sport have been used to, for many years, the referees being able to talk in-stadia,” O’Rourke said Wednesday. He said existing protocols don’t “don’t allow currently the VAR to talk in-stadia or even to the commentators, it’s a bit of a silent movie. Then what happens … is the fan is left to try and interpret why – they’re just left to their own devices.”
FIFA is the sport’s world governing body, and the International Football Association Board, which includes four FIFA members, formulates the laws and protocols, including future developments of the VAR.
O’Rourke said the National Rugby League in Australia has a good system for its video review decisions.
“The NRL have the bunker talking live to the crowd and stepping through their decision-making,” he said. Fans “don’t have to agree with what the bunker guy is saying but at least they can understand his decision-making.”
The VAR was criticized twice on the opening weekend in the A-League, both when reviews resulted in penalties being awarded.
Melbourne Victory lost 2-1 to Melbourne City when Bruno Fornaroli’s seemingly innocuous tumble earned a VAR-awarded penalty for City.
It was a similar situation in Wellington, New Zealand, where the Phoenix benefited from a late penalty after Mitch Nichols was taken down well off the ball. The subsequent spot kick sealed his team’s 2-1 win over the Newcastle Jets.