IFAB Approves VAR for Permanent Basis

In their Saturday’s meeting at FIFA headquarter, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) finally reached a consensus on Video Assistant Referees (VAR). The board agreed to use VAR on a¬†permanent basis on every football competition, after 2 years of trial.

The VAR has been undergoing trials in several Carabao Cup and FA Cup this season. With this decision, the board now allows every competition in the world to use VAR without permission, including the upcoming 2018 World Cup in Russia.

FIFA president, Gianni Infantino said that, following the announcement, the council will meet on March 16 in Bogota, Colombia to decide whether they will use VAR in the upcoming 2018 World Cup in Russia.

As for himself, the president believes that VAR technology is the answer to human mistakes in football. This technology will prevent referees from making mistakes, that might alter the course of the match itself. He believes that after undergoing trial for 2 years in several competitions worldwide, VAR is more than ready to give positive impacts to worldwide football competition.

The FIFA president does recognize that the system is not perfect. There are still issues here and there. However, these issues should never hold the council from making their approval of this new technology. He also said that he was once skeptic on VAR, but after monitoring its progress, he now believes that this technology should be put on the field as soon as possible.

If the council approved the proposal, VAR will assist the referees during the 2018 World Cup. The referees will be ready for the new technology as they have been trained for it for the last 2 years. However, as the VAR final decision is still roughly at 98.8%, we expect the referees not to rely too much on this system.

Here are some key facts we know so far about VAR:

  • It has been undergoing trial in 972 competitive matches in more than 20 different competitions.
  • Less than 5 checks are required per match
  • The system helps referees to correct errors in 18 out of 19 trial matches
  • The system passes 68.8% of its trial without a¬†review
  • Average lost time due to VAR review by the referee is 55 seconds

The last IAFB meeting on Saturday also produced two significant developments. The board has agreed to allow additional substitute during the extra time, after undergoing the 2-year experiment.

The board also agreed to continue their Play Fair initiative trial. The initiative will rule every player, coaches, and officials to respect and behave well during a game. If the initiative passes, the referee will be able to give yellow or red cards to any player, team officials, or even coaches if they behave poorly during a game. We don’t know how useful this initiative can be, but sometimes people can get emotional during a game. Whether it is something to correct or not, we can only leave the subject to the board. Let’s just hope if they pass the initiative, it won’t hold players from expressing their opinion in regards of playing fair.