The International Football Association Board has opened the door to video refereeing by allowing experiments to start soon.
This is a big step forward for football has referees would be assisted in the future by a video referee.
There are four game-changing moments where the referee will be able to be helped by the video technology: goal scored (or not), penalty decisions, red cards incidents and mistaken identity. The online test will be starting for the season 2017/18, while offline testing will begin even earlier.
Goals: the role of the VARs is to assist the referee to determine if there was an infringement that means a goal should not be awarded. As the ball has crossed the line the play has already been interrupted so there is no direct impact on the game.
With goal-line technology already in place, this is not the most revolutionary upgrade on refereeing.
Penalty decisions: the role of the VARs is to ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made in conjunction with the award or non-award of a penalty kick.
Important games are won or lost on extremely debatable penalty decisions like handball or dives, so any help by the video assistant will certainly be helpful and help to police and judge incidents in the penalty area.
Red card incidents: the role of the VARs is to ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made in conjunction with the sending off of a player
This is an important step for off the ball incidents that are missed by the referees as they now will be punished if caught straight away rather than retrospectively. If a referee is unsure of a yellow or red card foul, he will also be allowed to ask for the Video Assistant Referee’s opinion.
Mistaken identity: the referee cautions or sends off the wrong player, or is unsure which player should be sanctioned. The VARs will inform the referee so that the correct player can be disciplined.
The mistake where Kieran Gibbs was sent off instead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain won’t happen in the future. It will also help if there is a mass brawl to identify all the troublemakers as the referee cannot check on every player fighting on the pitch.
It could also help when a player retaliates after being hit as at the moment, the referees tend to penalise the players who react to an action but not the original player who made the first foul.
It is important to note there will be at least two years of testing before a decision is made to use the video technology or not. Football might become cleaner in the future, but it is not there yet.