The Associated PressZURICH (AP) — In one of the most fundamental changes to soccer’s 155-year-old rules, FIFA approved video review on Saturday and cleared the way to use it at the World Cup in June.
World soccer’s panel overseeing the laws of the game voted to add video assistant referees (VAR) despite mixed results from trials in top-level games.
The panel, known as IFAB, voted unanimously to begin updating the game’s written rules to include VAR and let competition organizers ask to adopt it — with FIFA next in line this month.
The decision “represents a new era for football with video assistance for referees helping to increase integrity and fairness in the game,” IFAB said in a statement.
FIFA must take a further decision on using VAR at the World Cup in Russia, which kicks off June 14.
That should be on March 16 when the FIFA Council chaired by President Gianni Infantino meets in Bogota, Colombia. Infantino has long said World Cup referees must get high-tech help to review key decisions at the 64-game tournament.
Video review can overturn “clear and obvious errors” and “serious missed incidents” by match officials involving goals, penalty awards, red cards, and mistaken identity.
Still, Infantino also acknowledged on Saturday the VAR system “is not perfect.” In 18 months of trials worldwide, reviews have been slower than promised and communication is often unclear in the stadium.
“VAR at the World Cup will certainly help to have a fairer World Cup,” Infantino said at a news conference after the IFAB meeting. “If there is a big mistake, it will be corrected.”
Infantino said FIFA must have “the ambition to get close to perfection” even if some coaches, players and fans were not yet convinced by video review.
VAR has often created confusion in the first full season of live trials which now include more than 1,000 games worldwide.