FIFA has finally and fully approved video review to help referees at the World Cup.
The last step toward giving match officials high-tech help in Russia was agreed to on Friday by FIFA’s ruling council chaired by President Gianni Infantino.
The decision came two weeks after FIFA’s rule-making panel voted to write video assistant referees (VAR) into the laws of soccer.
That landmark move still left competition organizers to opt to use video review in their games, and FIFA’s ruling committee had to sign off on the World Cup decision.
FIFA Council member Reinhard Grindel wrote on his Twitter account that clear communication will be important to make the system a success — and was promised on Friday by Infantino.
VAR system ‘not perfect’
Referees can call on VAR to review and overturn “clear and obvious errors” plus “serious missed incidents” involving goals, penalty awards, red cards, and mistaken identity.
Infantino acknowledged two weeks ago that VAR was currently “not perfect” after the rules panel, known as IFAB, met in Zurich.
In 18 months of trials worldwide — including at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, Bundesliga, and Serie A — reviews have often been slower than promised and communication has been unclear in the stadium.
Controversy has been stirred even by the most experienced VAR officials who have handled many more games than most referees who will work at the 64-game World Cup.
A total of 36 referees, plus their teams of assistants, are being trained by FIFA for World Cup duty and many come from countries which do not use video review in domestic games. FIFA will now look to sign a World Cup sponsor for video review at the June 14-July 15 tournament.