Soccer to use video replays for first time ever

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 December, 2016, 5:11am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 December, 2016, 5:11am

Soccer history will be made on Thursday at the Club World Cup in Japan when referees will be allowed to get help from video replays for the first time.

Video Assistant Referees (VARs) will be permitted to review “match-changing” moments on the broadcast TV feed and relay information to the referee on the field, who still retains the authority to take the make the final judgment.

Since experiments with replays were approved by soccer’s lawmakers in March, they have all been off-line with VARs not allowed to transmit information to referees.

But on the eve of the Club World Cup opener between Japanese side Kashima Antlers and New Zealand’s Auckland City, FIFA said Thursday’s game and the rest of the Club World Cup through December 18 would be used for an “important piece of history.”

It is the latest sign of FIFA belatedly embracing technology, four years after the Club World Cup saw the first use of systems to detect whether the ball has crossed the line for a goal.

“It’s important to remember that we are entering somewhat unchartered territory here, given that we are going live for the first time,” said Marco van Basten, the former Ajax and Milan forward who was hired as FIFA’s chief officer for technical development in September.

“Ultimately, these tests should prove invaluable in terms of determining whether the processes are sound or whether any further refinements are needed.”

The VARs in a video operations room will only give information to the main referee “to correct clear mistakes in ‘match-changing’ situations,” FIFA said in a statement. These involve four situations: goals being scored, penalties being awarded, players being sent off and cases of mistaken identity.

“The VAR system has been developed, just like goal-line technology, to provide additional support for the referee,” FIFA refereeing head Massimo Busacca said. “We want the essential flow of the game to be maintained and, as always, the first and the final decisions lie with the referee.”

Managers and players will not be allowed to appeal to referees to review an incident.

The Club World Cup also includes Champions League winner Real Madrid and Copa Libertadores champion Atletico Nacional from Colombia.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who has observed recent off-line trials with VARs at Italy games, wants video replays in use at the 2018 World Cup.