BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
The implementation of live communication of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) decision to the public both at the stadium and those watch through broadcast has began with the FIFA Club World Cup which is on-going in Morocco.
The first referee to implement this is Ma Ning after after checking for a possible penalty which he did award but sent off Auckland City FC player Adam Mitchell at the Club World Cup opening match between Auckland City and Al Ahly at the Ibn Batouta Stadium in Tangier.
The decision to take VAR to the next level was taken at the Annual Business Meeting last month in London.
The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the law-making organ for football, followed up on the recommendations made by its Football and Technical Advisory Panels.
As a result, the public explanation of VAR decisions is being experimented for a period of 12 months.
It was in similar circumstance that ‘kick-in’ was experimented in place of ‘throw-in’ at the 1993 U-17 World Cup in Japan.
Chairman of FIFA Referees Committee, Pierluigi Collina hopes that this will make VAR interventions more understandable for spectators.
“We decided to have this trial because we have received some requests in that sense, to make the decision taken by the referee after a VAR intervention more understandable for all the football stakeholders, namely the spectators at the stadium or [in front of] the television.”
Noting that there may be language barrier, Pierluigi remarked that “we we thought this Club World Cup would be perfect because it’s a multilanguage competition, with teams and, of course, spectators involved coming from all six of the different continents.
“I think we will offer something helpful, I hope, so my thoughts are definitely positive in this regard. I hope the spectators will benefit from this. We are at the beginning, it’s the first time we’re doing it, so certainly it might not be perfect from the very beginning but I’m confident that the outcome will be positive.”
He went on to state the objective of the experiment which is to protect the referees and also not to make their job too difficult or to not put too much extra pressure on them.
“That’s why it’s only once the decision has been taken that the communication will start.”
Pierluigi who was for six consecutive times from 1998 to 2000, acclaimed as the “World Best Referee” by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics explained that the public explanation of VAR decision is not completely new.
“I have to say that there are other experiences in other sports, namely the NFL in American football, they have been doing it for quite a long time.
“It seems that the referees are pretty comfortable with this.”
Continuing, He remarked: “We’ll start with the Club World Cup and then we have already thought about implementing it at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia. Depending on the outcome, there might certainly be the possibility of having this at the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
“But I think it’s better to wait and see the outcome of the trial in the other competitions before saying anything in that regard.”