FIFA insists VAR extremely positive

Yokohama, Dec 17 (IANS) World football governing body FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Saturday that the result of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) that was tested in the World Club Cup was “extremely positive”, despite a “communication mistake” after Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal in the semi-final.

The world football governing body held a press conference that lasted for more than one hour, whose main topic was the VAR system, reports Xinhua.

“The results so far in the tested matches have been extremely encouraging, and extremely positive,” said Infantino.

“Of course there are learnings, of course there are a few topics that we have to look into and discuss in more detail, but the result is extremely positive. Because the referees have been able to take the right decision and justice and transparency have been brought to the game,” he added.

VAR was used in an official FIFA match for the first time in Wednesday’s semi-final between Atletico Nacional and Kashima Antlers to award the Japanese side a penalty.

In Real Madrid’s 2-0 victory over Club America in the other semi-final, referee Enrique Caceres consulted the VAR system for a possible offside after Ronaldo had scored Madrid’s second in injury time.

FIFA said it was a “communication mistake” between the video assistant referee and the pitch referee that led to the unnecessary interruption after Ronaldo’s goal.

“It was a communication issue, we apologise for that,” Infantino said.

Marco Van Basten, FIFA Chief Officer Technical Development, said the video assistant referee was talking to the operator at that time, but the referee thought the VAR was talking to him.

Van Basten said there are only three occasions that VAR could be activated: penalty, red card and goal.

“(It will be applied for) Penalty, red card and goal, not for corner, not for free kick, not for offside,” he said.

Some questioned that it took too long for the referee to review the video replay to make a final decision, which could ruin the smooth flow of the game.

To this Infantino replied: “What if we spent one more minute or 30 seconds in the World Cup to make a right decision that related to win or lose occasion?

“How many minutes does a player can waste in a match? Only 30 seconds to help referee to make a right decision,” Infantino said.

He insisted the flow of the game would not be interrupted because the VAR would only be used under two circumstances.

“We don’t want the flow of the game to be interrupted, this means only two situations: first, when the referee has doubted a game changing situation, then the referee can ask for confirmation; Second, a clear mistake has happened,” he said.

Both Infantino and Van Basten agreed that the system needs to be improved before officially implementing it in main events like the World Cup.

“When you start a new thing, you need more seconds. If we could manage in 15 seconds, we would be happy,” Van Basten said.

“In a few months, or years, everyone will understand, it is a matter of time, everyone will be happy,” he added.