Five essential facts about VAR
1. A video assistant referee team supports the match officials during all 64 matches.
2. The video assistant referee team is located in a centralised video operation room in Moscow.
3. The video assistant referee team has access to all relevant broadcast cameras and two dedicated offside cameras.
4. The video assistant referee does not take any decisions; he supports the referee in the decision making process and the final decision can only be taken by the referee.
5. Football fans will be informed about the review process by broadcasters, commentators and infotainment.
The VAR Team
The team consists of the video assistant referee (VAR) and his three assistant video assistant referees (AVAR1, AVAR2 and AVAR3). All video assistant referee team members are top FIFA match officials. Four replay operators select and provide the best camera angles. Two of them pre-select the most likely camera angles while the other two provide the final angles chosen by the VAR and the AVAR2 for each checked or reviewed incident.
The VAR watches the main camera on the upper monitor and checks or reviews incidents on the quad-split monitor. He is responsible for leading the VAR team and communicating with the referee on the field of play.
The AVAR1 concentrates on the main camera and keeps the VAR informed about live play if an incident is being checked or reviewed.
The AVAR2 is an assistant referee located at the offside station. He anticipates and checks any potential offside situations to speed up the VAR check and review process.
The AVAR3 focusses on the TV programme feed, assists the VAR in evaluating incidents and ensures good communication between the VAR and AVAR2 located at the offside station.
The Video Operation Room (VOR)
The video assistant referee team supports the referee from a centralised video operation room (VOR), located in the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) in Moscow. All relevant camera feeds from the 12 stadiums are provided to the VOR through a fibre optic network. The referee on the field at each stadium talks to the VAR team via a sophisticated fibre-linked radio system.
The video assistant referee team has access to 33 broadcast cameras, eight of which are super slow-motion and six of which are ultra slow-motion cameras. In addition, they have access to two offside cameras. These two cameras are only available to the video assistant referee team.
The Decision Process
The video assistant referee team supports the decision-making process of the referee in four game-changing situations:
1. Goals and offences leading up to a goal
2. Penalty decisions and offences leading up to a penalty
3. Direct red card incidents only
4. Mistaken identity
Throughout a match, the video assistant referee team constantly checks for clear and obvious errors related to these four match-changing situations. The VAR team communicates with the referee only for clear and obvious mistakes or serious missed incidents. For the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the referees have received clear instructions on when to accept information from the video assistant referee and when to review the video footage on the side of the field of play before taking the appropriate action/decision.
-foul committed by attacking player
-foul leading up to penalty
-foul by attacking player
All direct red card incidents
VAR Advice Only (for factual incidents):
-offside position leading up to goal
-ball out of play leading up to goal
-foul committed inside or outside the penalty area
-ball out of play leading up to penalty
-offside position leading up to penalty
All cases of mistaken identity
Hand to the Ear
The referee can delay a restart at any time to communicate with the VAR. He will signal this by pointing to his ear. This is not considered an official VAR review.
Official Review Sign
The referee will make the official VAR review signal to indicate that play has been stopped to review a decision with the on-field review monitor or to change a decision based on information received from the VAR. An official VAR review only takes place if the referee makes the signal.
To ensure that all football fans in the stadium and watching on TV are well informed during a review process, FIFA has developed a VAR information system for broadcasters, commentators and infotainment. For each match, a FIFA staff member informs the broadcasters, commentators and infotainment about the different steps of the review process, including information about the reason for the review and the outcome of the review, via a networked touch tablet. The person operating the tablet is located in the video operation room and has access to the audio from the referee communication system as well as the camera angles the VAR is looking at. The VAR information system will also be used to automatically create VAR-specific graphic templates for TV and the giant screen in the stadium.