FIFA and MLS Testing the Implementation of the Video Assistant Referee

From May 18-May 20, 2016, the International Football Association Board, or IFAB, held a series of workshops to discuss and learn about the possible implementation of Video Assistant Referees, or VARs. The way this system would work is, according to FIFA’s sketch on their website, that there would be two video assistant referees sitting in front of multiple monitors presumably somewhere at the stadium. The two situations in which a review can be initiated are if the VARs recommend the referee gets a second opinion or the referee informs the VARs that he would like to review the play. FIFA has determined that there are four situation in which the call can be reviewed by a VAR; a goal decision, a penalty decision, a direct red card decision, or a case of mistaken identity or if the referee does not know which player to discipline. Lukas Brud, the IFAB Secretary, said that the IFAB and FIFA conducted practice runs with this technology using previous match footage and attempting to re-enact the match with VARs. According to Brud, approximately one in four decisions was considered “reversible” by the video assistant referees; Brud also said that the average time for a play to be reviewed was twelve seconds, so it could be done in a quick way without delaying the game. As stated by IFAB, there were over twenty-five associations and leagues that contact IFAB to learn about this system and express interest. At the conclusion of the workshops, MLS, many Dutch Competitions, Hyundai A-League in Australia, Germany’s Bundesliga, Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileiro, the Super Cup Supertaça Cândido Oliveira, and the Portuguese Cup Taça de Portugal all expressed interest to participate in the experiment over the next couple of years. Brud says that IFAB hope to have the system fully implemented in league play by as soon as 2018 if all goes well.


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