ZURICH: Video replays to help referees make key decisions are set to be used at this year’s World Cup in Russia after the system was approved by soccer’s rule-making body IFAB yesterday, a move that could fundamentally change the nature of the sport.
IFAB unanimously agreed to approve the VAR (Video Assistant Referee) system in arguably the biggest change to the game since the abolition of the back-pass in 1992.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino said a final decision on using VAR during the World Cup would be taken at a Council meeting to be held by the global soccer body on March 16.
However, that is expected to be a rubber-stamping decision as Infantino has repeatedly promised that VAR will be used at the June 14-July 15 tournament and has made it one of his priorities since being elected in February 2016.
European soccer’s ruling body Uefa, on the other hand, has already said the system will not be deployed in next season’s elite Champions League club competition, saying it needs more time to be tested.
“As of today, the VAR system is part of football,” Infantino told reporters. “We came to the conclusion that VAR is good for football and referees, it brings more fairness to the game. For these reasons we have decided to approve it.”
Critics say VAR has led to confusion in competitions where it has been used, especially for spectators in stadiums who are often unaware that a decision is being reviewed.
There have been incidents in Italy where goals have been disallowed following a three-minute wait, after celebrations have died down, and penalties revoked with the ball on the spot and the attacking player waiting to take the kick.