SAMINDRA KUNTI / AIPS – BRUSSELS: The video refereeing system will be a positive surprise at next month’s World Cup finals in Russia, according to FIFA’s director of refereeing Massimo Busacca.

The world football federation introduced VAR at the 2016 Club World Cup in Japan during its initial trial period.

This technology was also tested at the 2017 U-20 World Cup in South Korea, the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia and the last Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

Busacca explained the technology at AIPS Congress in Brussels, when he played video examples from the U-20 World Cup, stressing that the correct decision must trump emotion.

He told delegates from more than 100 sports media associations: “The real scandal is not there anymore. In four competitions the implementation of VAR didn’t permitted a scandal. If you don’t have the VAR, you don’t have the possibility to correct a clear mistake.”

Busacca made an apt comparison. “How important is a recording machine for you and your interview?” For us it is the same. We will have a monitor in front of us but we still need intelligent referees to make the rights decisions for an on-field review or a clear mistake.”

He stressed that subjective human interpretation remained key to the success of the VAR. The technology was a tool to reach the right decision.

Johannes Holzmuller, head of he FIFA football technology innovation department: “We want to provide a tool to the referee, like goal-line technology; to provide the referee with additional information. That is what VAR is about.”

VAR can support the on-field referee in four game-changing situations: goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents and cases of mistaken identity. He has no authority to overrule the on-field referee. VAR thus becomes a delicate system of check and balances, including assistants to the VAR.

Busacca said: “We are giving the referees all the conditions to arrive [at the World Cup] prepared.”

In March FIFA held a VAR seminar in Coverciano Italy, with all the 112 match officials to further streamline VAR practices. Earlier this month FIFA named the 14 VARs who will work from the International Broadcast Centre in Moscow.

FIFA chose the IBC in the Russian capital as centralised VOR (video operation room) to ease the travel requirements and demands on VARs. From the IBC the VAR team will assist referees. The German Bundesliga has applied the same distance approach.

Busacca also downplayed the issue of time loss during matches. At the last World Cup, the average real playing time during 90 minutes was 57.

He said: “Do we want to complain at the time taken by the implementation of VAR? We lose time to throw ins, to corner kicks, to free kicks. I can’t see it, because this interruption is for the benefit of the game.”

Picture: FIFA’s Director of Refereeing Massimo Busacca explains VAR at the AIPS Congress in Brussels / AIPS Media