Video Assistant Referee project

AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

Infantino: “Nothing is standing in the way of using VAR” at World Cup

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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.

WATCH: Video Assistant calls back Griezmann goal

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France and Spain used the Video Assistant Referee program on Tuesday in a friendly, and the French likely rue that decision.

Antoine Griezmann had an incorrectly allowed goal reverse for offside, while Gerard Deulofeu saw an initially ruled offside goal allowed upon review in Spain’s 2-0 win over France.

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Here’s an example, as Griezmann’s barely offside goal was overturned in less than a minute (Both calls took less than a minute to decide):

At the risk of sounding like a caveman, I really don’t like these razor thin offside calls being subject to review.

When you consider the improbability of timing the moment of contact with the ball — how many times have you seen a freeze frame conveniently used to make a case? — it just seems to mess with the spirit of sport.

What do you think?

Video replays can provide refs with decisions in 10 seconds

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

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.

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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.”

Major League Soccer joins Video Assistant Referee project
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Like every league, Major League Soccer has had some controversial red card and penalty decisions this season, and will look to cameras to help them fix it.

MLS will look to institute the Video Assistant Referee project in the future, and will test it this summer in a batch of trial matches in the USL, its third-tier partner.

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The top flights of Australia, Germany and Brazil are already on board with the project, which reviews direct red card, penalty, mistaken identity cards, and goal decisions.


The participating leagues and competitions can now begin preparations for testing. MLS, PRO and USL are making preparations for trials in USL matches hosted at MLS and USL venues this summer.  These tests will help MLS develop a plan for implementation of video review in MLS matches.

Today’s announcement continues MLS’ commitment to video assistance for referees, as the league first began studying the feasibility and conducted offline tests of video review in 2014. The preliminary findings of these tests during the last two years indicated that the review of a key match incident could be completed without a material disruption to the game.
Here’s how the system works, via a FIFA infographic: