Moscow, June 12: Football is practically the last major sport to start using video replay technology to help referees ensure they made the right calls on the pitch, and on March 3 FIFA took the decision to employ Video Assistant Referees (VAR) at the game’s biggest tournament this summer: the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Pro tennis uses what it calls Hawk-Eye replays, basketball has instant replays, rugby referees consult video and American football referees have been making decisions based on video since all the way back in 1986.
But the steady march toward VAR has caused some to say the essence of the game has been lost along the way, reports Efe news agency.
FIFA is to set to implement VAR after testing its use in over 1,000 matches, and says an average of just 55 seconds per game was lost in reviewing replays.
This comes out to a relatively minor amount compared to the average time lost due to fouls (eight minutes and 51 seconds), corner kicks (three minutes and 57 seconds) or player substitutions (two minutes and 57 seconds).
However, VAR’s implementation has not been unanimously welcomed, as many officials, coaches and players have opposed the idea of reviewing gameplay after the fact.
The former president of FIFA, Joseph Blatter, had said VAR could not be used in the World Cup because it would lead to significant changes in the games.
FIFA’s current president Gianni Infantino countered that the use of VAR would limit errors in the 2018 World Cup, increasing the success of referees from the current 93 percent to 99 percent.
Infantino added that VAR technology would help provide a “fairer” World Cup this time around.
However, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has refused to bring in VAR for the European competitions next season, saying video replays would lead to considerable confusion.
Italy coach Massimiliano Allegri complained that VAR would turn soccer into baseball because of the numerous interruptions caused by reviewing replays.
Argentina coach Mauricio Pochettino has warned that VAR could kill soccer, while Croatia and Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric said it would create confusion. IANS