FIFA World Cup 2018 is a first of many things. It is the first time that the World Cup has landed at the Soviet land. Iceland and Panama, for the first time, would be taking part in the finals and also, for the first time, Video Assistant Referee system (VAR) will be introduced. On March 16, FIFA had announced that VAR would be used in the World Cup, to ensure accuracy in crucial decisions taken by on-field referees. The system will come into place with the opening match between hosts Russia and Saudi Arabia on Thursday afternoon.
What is VAR?
The Video Assistant Referee system is football’s first use of video technology which will help referees to take a more accurate decision. VAR was first trialled in the FA and Carabao Cups last season and also in the Italian and German leagues.
When will VAR be used?
VAR will be used when the officials have made a ‘clear and obvious error’ in one of these key areas: goals, straight red cards, penalties and mistaken identity, according to a report by the Telegraph.
How will it work in practice?
There are three ways VAR can be used during the game:
– The video referee speaks to the on-field referee via an earpiece, who will put his hand up to stop the play and inform that a decision needs to be reviewed by drawing a box in the air. If satisfied there is no error, he will signal to for play to re-start.
– VAR decides if the decision is wrong or not. If the referee decides to change his decision after reviewing the incident, he will make again draw a rectangle, the report added.
– An ‘on-field review’, as was seen when Italy were rewarded a penalty at Wembley earlier this year. With more subjective decisions, the video referee will instruct the referee to watch a replay on a pitchside screen. He will make the ‘TV signal’ before communicating his final decision.
The referee must always make a decision – he cannot let play unfold and wait for VAR. He can only go back to the start of the attacking phase that provoked the incident, and must wait until the ball is in a neutral zone to stop play.
FIFA also confirmed that the video referees sitting inside will be in full kit. The decision was confirmed by Pierluigi Collina, the chairman of Fifa’s referees committee. “It’s because they sweat like they do on the pitch.” he said. The 13 refs who officiate watching the control screens in the video operations room will wear exactly the same kit as their colleagues on the pitch.