The Video Assistant Referee technology (VAR) is set to be used in this year’s World Cup in Russia that kicks off in June according to FIFA boss Gianni Infantino.
This comes after a series of trials and deliberations on whether the technology will do more harm than good to the world’s most popular sport. The decision is set to irk former FIFA President Sepp Blatter who was firmly against its introduction at the World Cup.
“We are going to have in 2018, for the first time, a World Cup with VAR. This has been approved and we are really very happy with this decision. What we want is to help and to give the referee the possibility to have extra help when he has to make important decisions, and in a World Cup we make very important decisions,” he told AFP following a FIFA Council meeting.
VAR to help referees
The VAR ideally would help the centre referee in making correct calls in matches especially during key moments such as penalties, off sides in the build to goals and even potential situations where a player is adjudged to have dived.
Infantino believes that the technology will be most helpful to those tasked with handling matches to ensure that they make the correct calls. “It cannot be possible that in 2018 everybody, in the stadium or at home, knows in a few seconds if the referee has made a mistake but not the referee himself — not because he doesn’t want to know about it but because we forbid him to know.
“The VAR is helping the referee and we are going to have a more transparent and fairer game, and that’s what we want,” he added.
UEFA, which is European football’s governing body is against the technology and its President Aleksander Ceferin confirmed that it will not be used the 2018/2019 Champions League campaign.
With the tournament now just a little under three months away, a wave of uncertainty lingers on a system that has never before been tested in the senior men’s World Cup.