Video assistant referee

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The symbol of VAR that appears on the screens during the review process.

The video assistant referee (VAR) is a football assistant referee who reviews decisions made by the head referee with the use of video footage and a headset for communication. In 2018, VARs were written into the Laws of the Game by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) following trials in a number of major competitions.[1]

Procedure

VAR in use in a 2018 FIFA World Cup match between South Korea and Sweden.

There are 4 types of calls that can be reviewed.[2]

  • Goals and whether there was a violation during the buildup
  • Penalty decisions
  • Direct red card decisions (second yellow cards are not reviewable)
  • Mistaken identity in awarding a red or yellow card

The standard for overturning the referee's original decision is that there has been a "clear error", sometimes expanded to "clear and obvious error".[3]

The process begins with the video assistant referee(s) and the assistant video assistant referee (AVAR) reviewing the play in question on a bank of monitors in the video operation room (VOR) with the assistance of the replay operator. This can be triggered by the referee requesting the review or by the VAR conducting a "check" to see if a review should be recommended to the referee. If the VAR finds nothing during the check, then communication with the referee is unnecessary, which is called a "silent check". If the VAR believes there has been a potential clear error, the referee will be contacted with that judgment. The referee can then either (a) change the call on the advice of the VAR or (b) conduct an on-field review (OFR) by going to a designated spot on the sideline, called the referee review area, to review the video with the help of the review assistant or (c) decide that he/she is confident in the original call and not conduct an OFR. The referee is allowed to stop play to reverse a call or conduct an OFR, but is not supposed to do so when either team is engaged in good attacking possibility.[2][additional citation(s) needed]

The official signal for a video review is the referee making the outline of a rectangle with his index fingers (indicating a video screen). This precedes both any OFR as well as any change in the original call. Players who demand a video review by making the rectangle motion are to be cautioned with a yellow card. Players who enter the area where the referee conducts an OFR are also to be cautioned with a yellow card, and team officials who do so are to be dismissed.[2]

There are guidelines the referee and the VAR should follow in conducting a video review. For example, slow motion should only be used for "point of contact" offences, such as physical offences and handballs. Regular speed should be used to determine the intensity of an offence and whether a handball was deliberate.[4] Reviews for goals, penalty kick decisions, and red cards for denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity cover the period back to the beginning of the "attacking possession phase", when the attacking team first gained possession of the ball or restarted play.[5] Other reviews only cover the incident itself.[4]

The VAR will be a current or former referee.[2]

Assistant video assistant referee

The assistant video assistant referee (AVAR) is a current or former referee appointed to assist the VAR in the video operation room. The responsibilities of the AVAR include watching the live action on the field while the VAR is undertaking a "check" or a "review", to keep notes of incidents, and to communicate the outcome of a review to broadcasters.[2]

History

VAR was conceived by the Refereeing 2.0 project in the early 2010s, under the direction of the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB).[6] The system was tested through mock trials during the 2012–13 season of the Eredivisie, the country's top football league. In 2014, the KNVB petitioned the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to amend its laws of the games to allow the system to be used during more extensive trials. The IFAB approved trials and a pathway to full implementation during its 2016 general meeting.[6][7]

A live trial of the VAR system began in August 2016 with a United Soccer League match between two Major League Soccer reserve sides.[8] Match referee Ismail Elfath reviewed two fouls during the match and, after consultation with video assistant referee Allen Chapman, decided to issue a red card and a yellow card in the respective incidents.[9] Video reviews were introduced the following month during an international friendly between France and Italy.[10] A "pitchside monitor" was introduced at the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup, allowing referees to review footage from the field.[11]

The A-League in Australia became the first to use a VAR system in a top flight professional club competition on 7 April 2017, when Melbourne City played Adelaide United[12] though this game was completed without the VAR being called upon.[13] The first intervention by a VAR in a professional league game was seen on 8 April when Wellington Phoenix hosted Sydney FC. The VAR identified an illegal handball in the penalty area and awarded Sydney FC a penalty. The game finished in a 1–1 draw.[14][15] Major League Soccer in the United States introduced VARs in competitive matches during its 2017 season after the 2017 MLS All-Star Game on 2 August 2017.[16][17] Its first official use came during a match between the Philadelphia Union and FC Dallas, invalidating a goal from the latter over contact made between a Dallas player and Philadelphia's goalkeeper.[18] VAR was used at national level in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in June, where it was praised but its usefulness was questioned after a referee decision in the final match.[19][20]

The VAR system was introduced in top flight European football by Bundesliga and the Serie A at the beginning of the 2017–18 season.[21] The system was also used at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in October.[22] On 8 January 2018, VAR was trialled for the first time in England in the 2017–18 FA Cup game between Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace.,[23] and the following day it was trialled for the first time in France in the Côte d'Azur derby game in the 2017–18 French League Cup. It was said to have worked well.[24]

Italy opened the world's first VAR training centre in Coverciano in January 2018.[25]

On 3 March 2018, the IFAB wrote the VARs into the Laws of the Game on a permanent basis. [26] Their use remains optional for competitions, and the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League are not expected to implement VAR for their 2018–19 seasons.[27]

2018 FIFA World Cup

FIFA officially approved the use of VAR for the 2018 FIFA World Cup during the FIFA Council meeting on 16 March 2018 in Bogotá.[28][27][29][30] This tournament became the first competition to use VAR in full (at all matches and in all venues).[31] The first World Cup penalty awarded after consultation with a VAR occurred in France's match against Australia on 16 June.[32]

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) being shown a yellow card after a challenge with Iranian player that was reviewed by referee Enrique Cáceres as a potential red card incident

The 2018 FIFA World Cup marked the system's World Cup debut, with several uses during the group stage. The first VAR decision at the World Cup came on 16 June in a group stage match between France and Australia, where referee Andres Cunha awarded a penalty to France after consulting with the VAR.[33] A total of 335 incidents were checked by the VAR over the course of the group stage, averaging seven per match, and fourteen calls made by referees were changed or overruled after being reviewed by the VAR. According to FIFA, the VAR system had a success rate of 99.3 percent, up from the 95 percent of correct calls by referees without VAR.[34] In the final, referee Néstor Pitana reviewed the video assistant referee to award France a penalty, which gave them a 2–1 lead over Croatia; the final eventually ended 4–2 to France.[35]

Criticism

The use of video technology at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup was criticised after several contentious moments involving VAR at the tournament. It was accused of "creating as much confusion as clarity".[36][37]

Further criticism was leveled at VAR after it suffered issues preventing its use, for example in a Portuguese match where a supporter's flag had been obscuring the VAR camera,[38][39] or in the 2018 A-League Grand Final between Newcastle Jets FC and Melbourne Victory FC where the VAR software suffered a technical malfunction which prevented the assistant referee from viewing the replay.[40][41]

After the introduction of VAR in the 2018 World Cup, FIFA deemed it a success. Nevertheless, the use (or lack of use) of VAR has been criticised.[42][43] Independent assessments note that while most decisions were made correctly as a result of VAR, some were wrong despite VAR review and some decisions which were called incorrectly were not even reviewed.[44][42] The Guardian concludes that VAR has been most effective for factual decisions such as offsides and mistaken identities, while subjective decisions such as penalties or the disciplining of players have fared much worse. Lack of clarity and consistency are two main areas of weakness.[45]

Another line of criticism has been targeted at the effectiveness of the system in achieving its goal. In the opinion of Scott Stinson from the National Post, VAR, like any other replay system, fails to correct human error and instead only adds to the controversies because human judgment is still necessary.[46] Lack of transparency is another contentious point, as teams have no way to know which incidents were reviewed by the VAR team.[47] At a press conference held after the group stage, FIFA referees committee chairman Pierluigi Collina showed footage of the decision-making process accompanied with audio of the conversations between VAR officials and the referees. Asked if this audio could be made publicly available, as it is in rugby and cricket, Collina answered enthusiastically but cautioned that it might still be too early.[48][49]

Others have pointed to the game-changing nature of VAR. Initial fears that using the system would lengthen the game considerably have not been confirmed, with every VAR review taking up an average of only 80 seconds.[50] The dramatic increase in the number of penalties awarded at the 2018 World Cup has been attributed to VAR catching fouls which would otherwise have remained unpunished. Of the 146 goals scored in the tournament, 21 have been from the spot, beating the previous record of 17 set in the 1998 World Cup.[51] Jonathan Liew of The Independent compares the situation to the introduction of the Decision Review System in cricket and notes the changes it had on that sport, and suggests that it might lead to changes of a similar nature in football.[52]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Historic step for greater fairness in football". International Football Association Board. 3 March 2018. Retrieved 3 March 2018. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Video Assistant Referees (VARs) Experiment – Protocol (Summary)" (PDF). International Football Association Board. 26 April 2017. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  3. ^ Podcast, Planet Futbol. "Howard Webb on video replay and its future in soccer". SI.com. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "VIDEO ASSISTANT REFEREES (VARs) – Implementation handbook for Competitions". IFAB. Retrieved 3 March 2018. 
  5. ^ Rumsby, Ben (7 January 2018). "Video technology will not make football a mistake-free sport, warns referee chief Mike Riley". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 March 2018. 
  6. ^ a b Medeiros, João (23 June 2018). "The inside story of how FIFA's controversial VAR system was born". Wired. Retrieved 30 June 2018. 
  7. ^ "Minutes of the 130th Annual General Meeting of the International Football Association Board". IFAB. pp. 13–17. Retrieved 3 March 2018. 
  8. ^ Alvarez, Liana (19 August 2016). "MLS makes soccer history with debut of video assistant referees". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  9. ^ Williams, Bob (13 August 2016). "Video assistant referees edge closer after successful trial in United States". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  10. ^ Rumsby, Ben (2 September 2016). "Video replays used for first time during France's 3–1 friendly win over Italy as 'football history' made". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  11. ^ "Video replays: Referees to use pitch-side monitors at Fifa's Club World Cup". BBC Sport. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  12. ^ "Hyundai A-League first to use Video Assistant Referees". Hyundai A-League. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  13. ^ "Video Assistant Referee: Australia's A-League uses system during trial". BBC Sport. 8 April 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2018. 
  14. ^ "Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC video, highlights: Sky Blues concede late after VAR call". Fox Sports. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  15. ^ "World first as video assistant referee called into action in Wellington and Sydney FC stalemate". The Guardian. 8 April 2017. Retrieved 26 April 2017. 
  16. ^ Borg, Simon (10 December 2016). "MLS will seek to introduce Video Assistant Referees (VAR) during 2017". Major League Soccer. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  17. ^ Goldberg, Jamie (14 March 2017). "MLS leads the way among soccer leagues worldwide as it prepares to roll out video replay". The Oregonian. Retrieved 15 March 2017. 
  18. ^ "Video review debuts in MLS, rules out goal in Dallas' first-ever loss to Union". ESPN FC. 5 August 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017. 
  19. ^ Ogden, Mark (2 July 2017). "VAR creates as much confusion as clarity in Confederations Cup final". ESPN. Retrieved 4 March 2018. 
  20. ^ "Russia 2017, VAR praised at closing press conference" (Press release). FIFA. 1 July 2017. Retrieved 4 March 2018. 
  21. ^ Kohli, Siddharth (17 August 2017). "VAR: The good, the bad and the ugly". CNN. Retrieved 4 March 2018. 
  22. ^ "Football poised to change forever with the introduction of Video Assistant Referee system". The Independent. Independent Print Limited. 9 March 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2017. 
  23. ^ "FA Cup trial for Video Assistant Referee". 
  24. ^ "Nice-Monaco: la vidéo "a très bien fonctionné"". Eurosport.fr. 10 January 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018. 
  25. ^ "Italy host first VAR training centre". Football Italia. 19 December 2017. Retrieved 4 March 2018. 
  26. ^ "Historic step for greater fairness in football". The IFAB. IFAB. 3 March 2018. Retrieved 6 July 2018. 
  27. ^ a b Conway, Richard (3 March 2018). "VAR: Video assistant referees set to be used at 2018 World Cup in Russia". BBC. Retrieved 4 March 2018. 
  28. ^ "IFAB comes to landmark decision about VAR". FIFA.com. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. 3 March 2018. Retrieved 3 March 2018. 
  29. ^ "VAR discussed at IFAB media briefing". FIFA.com. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. 3 March 2018. Retrieved 3 March 2018. 
  30. ^ "FIFA finally approves video review to use at World Cup". washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post. 16 March 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2018. 
  31. ^ Medeiros, João. "The inside story of how FIFA's controversial VAR system was born". Retrieved 28 June 2018. 
  32. ^ Johnson, Dale (16 June 2018). "How VAR made history with penalty for France". ESPN. Retrieved 16 June 2018. 
  33. ^ Grez, Matias (16 June 2018). "History made as VAR used for first time in World Cup match". CNN.com. Retrieved 30 June 2018. 
  34. ^ "World Cup 2018: VAR system 'fine-tuned' after criticism". BBC Sport. 29 June 2018. Retrieved 30 June 2018. 
  35. ^ Taylor, Daniel (15 July 2018). "France seal second World Cup triumph with 4–2 win over brave Croatia". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2018. 
  36. ^ "Confederations Cup: Video assistant referee system 'a shambles'". BBC. 2 July 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2018. 
  37. ^ "VAR creates as much confusion as clarity in Confederations Cup final". ESPN. 2 July 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2018. 
  38. ^ Browne, PJ (7 February 2018). "Watch: Flag Waving Fan Causes VAR Chaos In Portugal". Balls.ie. Retrieved 4 March 2018. 
  39. ^ "VAR and the giant flag: how a match in Portugal became the scene of farce". The Guardian. 7 February 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018. 
  40. ^ "A-League grand final: Victory's offside goal inaction due to VAR glitch, says FFA – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". mobile.abc.net.au. Retrieved 3 June 2018. 
  41. ^ "Wrongly awarded goal decides Aussie title after VAR failure". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 3 June 2018. 
  42. ^ a b Belam, Martin (22 June 2018). "VAR at the World Cup: the big decisions, game by game". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 July 2018. 
  43. ^ "So VAR, so good? Fifa praises review system in helping referees get '99.3% decisions correct'". ITV News. 29 June 2018. Retrieved 4 July 2018. 
  44. ^ Johnson, Dale. "VAR at the World Cup: A timeline of the tournament". ESPN.com. Retrieved 4 July 2018. 
  45. ^ Nakrani, Sachin (26 June 2018). "VAR: the World Cup verdict so far – some success but more clarity needed". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 July 2018. 
  46. ^ Stinson, Scott (26 June 2018). "'VAR is bulls—t': Video review's honeymoon phase comes to sudden, spectacular end at World Cup". National Post. Retrieved 4 July 2018. All of a sudden, VAR had been revealed to be just like any other replay system: a process meant to reduce the number of controversies by correcting human error was now only adding to the controversies because there was still human judgment involved. And no replay could render that judgment infallible. 
  47. ^ "Brazil questions VAR procedures after 'clear errors by referee' in Swiss match". CBC. Associated Press. 18 June 2018. Retrieved 4 July 2018. The confederation says it wants to know whether the plays were reviewed in any way, saying "transparency is of essence." 
  48. ^ Wood, Martyn (29 June 2018). "FIFA referees chief pleased but not surprised by VAR success at World Cup". IOL. Retrieved 4 July 2018. 
  49. ^ "RELIVE: Referee media briefing held after group stage". FIFA.com. 28 June 2018. Retrieved 4 July 2018. 
  50. ^ Sengupta, Ayon (2 July 2018). "Mixed response for VAR". The Hindu. Retrieved 4 July 2018. 
  51. ^ Kirk, Ashley; Scott, Patrick (29 June 2018). "13 intriguing stats from World Cup 2018 so far". The Telegraph. Retrieved 4 July 2018. 
  52. ^ Liew, Jonathan (29 June 2018). "VAR is going to change football as we know it – but we have no idea if that's a good thing or not". The Independent. Retrieved 4 July 2018. 

External links

  • Experiments with Video Assistant Referees (VARs) from FIFA
  • Video Assistant Referees (VARs) Experiment Protocol (Summary) from IFAB
  • VAR – The System Explained from FIFA
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