Video Assistant Refereeing took another step towards becoming an integral part of World Cup after the International Football Association Board recommended that it be approved for use. The decision is seen to be the crucial seal of approval for the technology, which has been the subject of testing for the past two years across 20 football competitions. It will now be rubber-stamped at the IFAB’s AGM in March leaving it almost certain to be deployed in full at the World Cup final tournament this summer.
Tested across the world in competitions including the Portuguese Primeira Liga and North America’s MLS, data from the experiments was collated by a team of academics at Belgium’s KU Leuven University. These findings were presented to IFAB on Monday and described by the body as “positive and encouraging”. In the findings presented to IFAB, the academics made several statistical observations about the technology which allows referees to ask to review key moments in a match on video. Included among the observations the academics found that only 31.2% of matches during the trial called for the use of VAR. In those games, 56.9% of checks were for goals and penalty incidents (referees are also allowed to consult on red card decisions and matters of mistaken identity). The median length of time taken to check with VAR was 20 seconds and the median when a decision to take a full review was a minute. VAR was found to have a decisive impact in just 8% of all matches studied, but it was found also not to have corrected a “clear and obvious error” in 5% of matches.
IFAB’s recommendation at the meeting chaired by Zvonimir Boban, FIFA’s deputy secretary general, was widely expected. Final approval is now likely a formality and executives from FIFA have already spoken about the prospect of the technology being used in Russia this summer. FIFA’s chief commercial officer, Philippe Le Floc’h, gave an interview with the Associated Press in which he said: “VAR will definitely happen,” adding: “It’s great to have technology in football because this is also a fair[ness] thing.” Le Floc’h went on to reveal that FIFA have already had discussions with potential commercial partners for sponsoring the technology during the World Cup. “We are talking to various technological companies who are very interested with what we are doing on the technology side of things”, he said.
Source: The Guardian