KEIR RADNEDGE in MOSCOW: FIFA president Gianni Infantino has spoken up to indicate that the world football federation is keeping faith with video refereeing despite the focus on the experiment being undertaken at the Confederations Cup in Russia.
Infantino has always insisted that he expects the law-making International Football Association Board to ratify the use of the VAR system at its annual meeting next spring. That would mean providing a clear green light for its use at the World Cup finals back in Russia next year.
On Sunday night in Moscow both Juan Antonio Pizzi and Hugo Broos, respective coaches of Chile and Cameroon, expressed concern about the speed with which the technology was being employed.
Neither questioned the significance of video aides in bringing greater accuracy to decision-making by match officials; their concern was about the effect of the system on players’ nerves at crucial moments of a match.
Offsides and handball
FIFA confirmed that in the four initial group stage matches the VAR has been used on five occasions – four related to offside and one to handball (the latter in Germany’s 3-2 victory over Australia in Sochi).
Indeed, one obvious issue as evidenced in the Australia-Germany game, was that the initiative on VAR has been removed from the referee by the players. If they protest vehemently enough the match official, for his own defensive sake, will defer to the video assistant.
Without delving into the power shift Infantino, who attended all four matches, said: “I am extremely happy with VAR so far.
“We have seen how video assistance has helped referees to make the correct decisions. This is what VAR is all about. The VAR tests during this Confederations Cup are also helping us to improve the processes and fine-tune communication.
“What fans have been waiting for over so many years is finally happening. This is a milestone tournament. Video assistant refereeing is the future of modern football.”
Not everyone is in favour of video refereeing. One critic is Peter Schmeichel, the former Denmark and Manchester United goalkeeper.
In an interview with the sports business portal iSportconnect he contrasted the time taken to reach a video decision with the almost instantaneous ruling provided by goal-line technology when issues arise concerning whether the ball has crossed into goal.
Schmeichel said: “I’d hate football to be going in a direction where it has to be stopped for someone to review the situation on video.
“Football is not a stop-start game in that respect. You will have referee mistakes, you will have bad tackles but if you take all that out you make the game, for me, a little bit too clinical and basically you leave nothing to talk about.”
An increasing number of countries and competitions have been cleared to undertake experimentation with one of the most eagerly-awaited major trials being scheduled for the German Bundesliga in the coming 2017-18 league season.