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VAR to be used in Italy v. USA friendly

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UEFA has selected the friendly between Italy and the U.S. men’s national team on Tuesday to test out VAR.

What could possibly go wrong?

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As European soccer’s governing body works towards using Video Assistant Referees throughout its competitions over the next few years, the game between Italy and the USMNT will be key in helping UEFA officials try out the process.

In a statement on UEFA’s website on Monday, they confirmed that VAR will be in use for the friendly in RKC Genk’s Luminus Arena in Belgium.

Following the UEFA Executive Committee decision to introduce Video Assistant Referees (VAR) in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League and the plans to subsequently extend the use of VAR at the final tournament of UEFA EURO 2020, in the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League, and in the 2021 UEFA Nations League finals, UEFA will conduct VAR tests at selected matches.

The upcoming friendly between Italy and USA on Tuesday 20 November 2018 at 20:45CET in Genk, Belgium has been selected as a match in which VAR will be tested. There will be no impact on the multilateral running order. In case of a VAR review process by the match officials, a dedicated VAR graphic will be implemented on the multilateral feed by the host broadcaster. In addition, a message will be displayed via Web CIS to inform broadcasters about the ongoing referee decision-making process.

Although the MLS players on the USMNT roster will be use to VAR, as will the Italian players as Serie A has introduced the system, there will be a few on the field who have yet to play in an environment where VAR is used week in, week out.

With the Premier League announcing last week that it will introduce VAR for the 2019-20 season, UEFA is now stepping up its testing so they aren’t too far behind.

The details given ahead of this test also give a few indications as to how UEFA plans to use the system, with graphics on the main screens informing everyone inside the stadium what is going on.

A-League, MLS, BuLi aiming to bring clarity to VAR decisions

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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.”

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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.

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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.

Klopp unhappy with VAR decision in Liverpool loss

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp doesn’t believe VAR got it right on Chelsea’s first goal in a 2-1 defeat of the Reds at Anfield on Wednesday.

“I think the first goal is offside,” he said. “Three players are offside – two for sure. They watched it and didn’t think it was offside. We have to take it.”

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Alvaro Morata was offside on the free kick but was not a part of the play. Ross Barkley, who helped produce the chance finished by Emerson Palmieri, may or may not have been offside. It was very difficult to tell, and the goal stood.

The Reds led 1-0 through ex-Chelsea man Daniel Sturridge, but Eden Hazard followed up Emerson’s goal with a wonderful winner.

Both teams made loads of changes, with Hazard, N'Golo Kante, and Mohamed Salah coming off the bench and Virgil Van Dijk rested along with Alisson Becker and Kepa Arrizabalaga.

That will be a bit different on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

“We could have played calmer football but it’s normal when you make changes. It was intense, a bit unlucky. Will I change anything for the weekend because of tonight? (long pause, before laughing). Yes.”

Report: Premier League ‘happy’ with Saturday VAR trials

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Video Assistant Referee was used behind the scenes in five Saturday kickoffs in the Premier League, with the BBC reporting that the results were positive.

[ MORE: What did we learn on Saturday? ]

Five decisions went under the proverbial microscope in the quintet of 10 a.m. ET matches, though only one would’ve been overturned had the VAR been in touch with the on-field officials.

That was a Leroy Sane goal ruled no good for offside, as the Man City man was reportedly deemed just onside in what could’ve been a four-goal win over Fulham. It went 3-0 to the champions.

Four other decisions, including an awarded penalty to Bournemouth, were correctly given and would not have been overturned by VAR.

VAR will be in play for the FA Cup and League Cup this seasons in all matches at Premier League stadia.

Premier League to test VAR with this weekend’s matches

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The Premier League took some flak when it announced this past summer the league would not implement Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) this coming season, instead deciding to “continue testing” the technology.

That testing will progress this coming weekend, with the league implementing VAR in a number of matches. This testing will not actually affect the play on the field, but VAR booths and referees will act as if they are part of the crew, making calls and using booth replay without any actual contact to the refereeing crew on the field.

The games to be used for testing are Cardiff City’s trip to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Arsenal’s visit to Newcastle United, Manchester City against Fulham at the Etihad, and Crystal Palace’s road test at Huddersfield Town.

The Telegraph was the first to report the new phase of testing, and their report states the main focus of the multi-match testing is to make sure the VAR hub – located at Stockley Park just north of Heathrow Airport – can handle a number of matches at the same time.

UEFA is also in the same boat, hoping to implement VAR in next year’s Champions League. “For me, VAR is not completely clear, but we also know that there’s no way back anymore,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin last week. “Technology will come sooner or later. The plan for now is to use it from the next season.”

It will always take some time for referees to gain experience using the technology and how best to make use of it during live matchday situations, that has been true for every sport that has implemented some form of replay in recent years. In addition, expecting it to completely eliminate controversy from the game is simply unrealistic. However, this testing will only lessen the learning curve necessary for officials to being use next season, and it’s a positive development to see it used in mock situations in preparation for the real thing.