FIFA president Gianni Infantino confirmed that the Video assistant referees will be used at next year’s World Cup in Russia.
The video assistant referee (VAR) is an associate football assistant referee that reviews decisions made by the head referee with the use of video footage and a headset for communication to review the play in question.
The referees can decide whether they want help from VAR before they take decisions on some incidents during the game.
However, if the VAR believes there has been a potential clear error, it will contact the referee with that judgment so that the referee can change the call on the advice of the VAR or conduct an on-field review to the pitchside monitor by going to a designated spot on the sideline.
There are 4 types of calls that can be reviewed:
- Goals and whether there was a violation during the build up
- Penalty decisions
- Red card decisions (note that second yellow cards are not reversible)
- Mistaken identity in awarding a red or yellow card
This video footage technology has been tested in the concluded 2017 Confederations Cup that was won by Germany defeating Chile 1-0 on July 2.
There have been countless instances of VAR being used too slowly, too late or incorrectly, and it clearly needs efficient time to become a success and a reliable feature of the game.
The Confederations Cup was not a good experiment for VAR because it created confusion in the following scenarios:
- Chile defender Gonzalo Jara appeared to elbow Germany’s Timo Werner in the face during the Cup final on Sunday, but got only a yellow card, even after the video assistant referee (VAR) system was used.
- In Chile’s semi-final win, when Portugal defender Jose Fonte appeared to foul Francisco Silva in the box, the referee did not award a penalty – or ask to see the incident again.
- In the group game between Germany and Cameroon, the referee sent off the wrong player after watching a replay, before correcting the mistake after a second viewing.
- In Mexico’s group game against New Zealand, there was a long delay late in the game as the referee watched back a melee between players. He initially booked one player, before stopping the game again and booking two more.
However, there were few occasions where the technology proved beneficial:
- Pepe thought he had given Portugal the lead in their opening game with Mexico, but the referee ruled it out correctly for offside after consulting with VAR.
- Chile’s Eduardo Vargas had a goal ruled out – for a marginal, but correct offside decision – against Cameroon. He later scored a goal in the same game – which again went to VAR, but this time it was allowed.
Fifa president Infantino believes the system has been a great success with positive results and nothing will stop it from being used in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.