Assistant referees in video rooms with access to all match images will be used for the first time in FIFA competition at this month’s Club World Cup, FIFA said Wednesday.
The system will be trialed at the tournament in Japan which features Real Madrid and kicks off on Thursday, with FIFA appearing to be moving towards bringing in video referees for major competitions, including the World Cup.
The video assistant referees — dubbed “an important piece of history” by FIFA — will correct referees in crucial match-changing decisions such as red card offences or penalty calls.
“This represents a big step forward in terms of testing the technology,” said Marco van Basten, FIFA’s chief officer of technical development.
“We are entering somewhat uncharted territory. Ultimately, these tests should prove invaluable in terms of determining whether the processes are sound or not.”
The match referee will continue to take the first as well as the final decision and will be able to review footage on a pitch-side monitor for certain decisions.
But the VARs (video assistant referees) will have access to all broadcast feeds, enabling them to alert the referee if he makes a call that images clearly suggest is incorrect.
“The VAR system has been developed, just like goal-line technology, to provide additional support for the referee,” said Massimo Busacca, FIFA’s head of refereeing.
“We want the essential flow of the game to be maintained.”
A follow-up series of tests will feature in competition in 12 countries, including in Brazil, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.