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Finally confirmed: video technology to be used in some games from next season

By Tony Attwood

Robbie Savage predicts that games will go on long into the night.  The Daily Telegraph says that “Doubts remain”.  But video technology is finally, after years and years of attempts at delay, going to happen.  It won’t mark the end of incompetent refereeing, nor of match fixing, but it will be a step in the right direction.  And it will mean that people who like a flutter on LeoVegas sports are going to know that what they are gambling on is a game the result of which is going to be a truer reflection of what happened.

Indeed you can usually tell when an idea is good when radio and TV pundits dismiss it as a nonsense without any serious evidence being put forward or any debate attempted, and we’ve already reported games on Untold where video evidence has been used to great effect.

Now, in the latest trial the “video assistant referee” was used in the friendly between France and Spain, and helped get the result a little closer to reality.

An Antoine Griezmann “goal” just after half time for France was ruled out for offside against Layvin Kurzawa.   With none of the hours of delays predicted by Savage, it was all done in a matter of moments.  Later Gerard Deulofeu was flagged offside but a short consultation showed he had scored.

Of course none of this will affect the vast number of major incidents that our referee reviews report and which should lead to sendings off because of dangerous play and the like, but which the referees get wrong.  And indeed it could be that the introduction of the system is liable to lead to a significant rise in off-the-ball incidents as those who have benefited from the vagaries of the PGMO refereeing system will find incidents away from the video feed more to their liking.

But Didier Deschamps, welcomed the technology even though it ruled against his team.  “If it is verified and it is fair, so why not?  It changes our football a little. It is against us today but if we have to go through this it will be the same for everyone. Afterwards, without it, it would have been different, but it is the evolution of football. That is how it will be.”

The use of video technology will be trialled in English football next season, and there are suggestions that the Community Shield (previously known as the Charity Shield until… well you know about the FA and its charity money) and the FA Cup from the third round on, will be used.  Gianni Infantino, has said that he wants video assistant referees in place at next year’s World Cup in Russia – presumably to see who started the street fights.

FA chief executive Martin Glenn brought some chuckles however when he said, “We are moving from a position of conservatism, of being nervous about any change of a desire to keep simplicity, to saying that technology is changing at a pace and that there is a need for experimentation in the game.”   There are words to describe the FA but “conservatism” isn’t quite right.   “Residency in the middle ages and a fear of the industrial revolution” might be a little closer.

Trials of the VAR system are still continuing but it seems that the extreme conservatives who have held back its implementation are now in full retreat as the games that have used the system have shown that it can work.    The system is therefore set to adjudicate on red cards, goals, penalty kicks and cases of mistaken identity.  What we don’t know is how much VAR will be used to go back and look at incidents where the traditional dirty tricks persistently waved away by PGMO officials are used even more regularly than before.  We’ll have to wait and see.

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Infantino added that the system “prevents the referee from making a clear mistake in an occasion where he wouldn’t have seen it. It happens. It’s happened in the last 150 years. With the help of Var, such a decision can be corrected. But it will not look at every single decision.”

It has also been decided that players will no longer receive a yellow card if they give away a penalty while making a genuine attempt to play the ball.

And in another innovation electronic devices will be allowed in technical areas, for use when reviewing an incident that may have caused a player serious injury.   In a different discussion Fifa is also proposing a change in the order of taking penalties in a shootout so that instead of teams alternating in the taking of the penalties, they will take penalties in pairs.  Thus team A takes the first penalty, team B the second and third, team A the fourth and fifth and so forth (or fifth).

There is also a new rule coming in through which leagues outside the top league in each country can change the number of substitutes allowed per game and “return” substitutions will be trialled at youth, grassroots and disability levels. Sin-bins are also going to be trialled.

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17 comments to Finally confirmed: video technology to be used in some games from next season

  • Rich

    Pretty mad that two huge decisions popped up and were duly made efficiently in such an early test of the system.

    Without doubt, offside calls where the ball ends in the net are the easiest for the system to manage and the ones it is most foolish to find fault with.

    It seems almost impossible that the use of video can ultimately fail the trial on that front now.

    I believe it will be a long and very rocky road until it is firmly established, though.

    The other aspects of it are surely more difficult. For instance it is to be used on reds- but what does that mean? Will it be used by a ref only when his initial thought is red (could it have saved Xhaka for instance) or when he has completely missed an off-the-ball piece of violent play?

    Will there be some mechanism which makes it almost certain a ref will have to look again at incidents which presently see them opt for yellow immediately when red is surely correct? Rojo, for instance.

    Penalties will often be as difficult to navigate well- will the man with the screen have to try spot it within 10 seconds or so? Does a ref stop play when he thinks something has probably happened or almost certainly has.

    For pens and reds, unlike offsides, presumably the ref will have to go and look at the footage himself. Apparently the little booth to do so is set up on the opposite side of the pitch to the dugouts in MLS, a wise move.

    Anyway, it’s not a panacea for all football ills and injustices, but it is a game changer and will surely make the game more just in the end. I expect a heck of a lot of hickups, errors, controversies and new types of injustice along the way ,in the early years of it at least,though. The detractors will try and use this to suggest it does more harm than good.

    It should definitely make it at least a bit harder ,overall, for pgmol to do their thing. I hope that eventually pressure will become overwhelming to reveal what the communications are between ref and video assistant. In rugby it helps enormously in making the stoppages acceptable and in proving the officials are acting competently. The same is absolutely true of football once video technology is in play.

  • Jimbo

    This is definitely a step forward,after watching the France Spain game last night which Spain deservedly won 2-0, yet could easily have ended 1-1 if it wasn’t for video technology. It got me thinking about Sundays opponents Man City who beat us earlier in the season 2-0 thanks to two offside goals.In my opinion wrong offside decisions have to be the biggest game changers and are the easiest way officials can tilt a game without getting too much stick and has been a major undoing for AFC over the years.Remember they always told us 99% of them are correct last nights game is proof they were very wrong..

  • Jimbo

    Sorry I meant 2-1 in the Man City game.

  • Menace

    One thing I noticed the the VR didn’t call was shirt pulling in the penalty area. Just as critical as off side, perhaps more so as the officials are using selective vision to ensure other aspects are covered. Griesman was pulled by the shirt when shooting at goal, resulting in the shot missing the goal from 2 yards. There were probably several other incidents missed because of the unpublished ‘terms’ on which the VR was used.

  • para

    As long as the video becomes available to view to all there should be no problem, but if they keep it away from audiences then…

  • nicky

    Couldn’t agree more and it’s getting more blatant by the week. VR must deal with this fouling. 😉

  • Rich

    Menace, these are apparently the broad terms of use


    Determined to maintain the ‘flow of the game’, the International Football Association Board set out strict criteria of when technology can be used.
    They hope to only remove ‘clear errors in match-changing situations’ with ‘minimum interference [and] maximum benefit’.
    Examples of when it can be used:
    – Goals (including offsides)
    – Penalty decisions
    – Red cards
    – Cases of mistaken identity
    ‘We do not want to be NFL’, IFAB’s technical director David Elleray said, ‘we just want to get rid of headline mistakes and scandals.’

    Still leaves plenty of questions, especially with ‘red cards’, as they only become red cards if a ref says so.

    It is surely for the best,though, if they try and keep down the amount it is used initially. Not doing so will only make it easier for the critics to try stop it coming into force.

  • Leon

    ‘We do not want to be NFL’, IFAB’s technical director David Elleray said, ‘we just want to get rid of headline mistakes and scandals.’

    He’s right there, the NFL is so effing dull due to the amount of time spent in stoppages.
    I thought it worked well last night, and it was interesting that they didn’t review the penalty decision. Got that one right too.
    I’m sure it will be tweaked and improved as it progresses, but a major change would be to allow the public to view in real time as in rugby.

  • WalterBroeckx

    A good day for me who have been asking for Video refereeing since… well since I became a ref some 17 years ago…

  • WalterBroeckx

    Agree Leon, they should open this up to the public so they know and can see it with their own eyes. No more closed shops when it comes to refereeing(errors)

  • Zedsaunt

    Thanks for another good article Tony, and for sticking to your guns, as Etta James used to sing.

    The debate has been continuous for a number of years. What was clear a few years ago is still absolutely clear – to minimize the effect of bias from referees on the decisions they make, there has to be, before a full season of video technology is fully rolled out, a comprehensive re-education of referees.

    To mnake the re-education work,there has to be an agreement as to what constitutes the breaches of football law. Referees are then guided through these until they all sing from the same hymn sheet.

    Because a huge number of games now exist on video, and because people live and work in a learning culture, there should be no discrepancy in interpreting the law between the ref in front of the video, and the ref with the whistle.

    We might see, sooner rather than later, the ref on the pitch as the facilitator for the football. The days where the ref is the most important person on the pitch may be numbered.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Along with Video refereeing they should also make the audio available live. What referees discuss should be open to all to hear. Like in cricket…

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    At it’s introductory level the VRA is covering 4 aspects of the game which are: offside, penalty, red card and mistaken identity decisions for now in which the referee decision making if wrongly made will influence the outcome of a match in a bias way to the detriment one team and to undue advantage of the other team thereby negating fairness which is a fundamental principle the playing of the game depends on. Otherwise it becomes a mockery.

    I think the VRAs should without delays be programmed to cover shirt pulling and holding of an opponent player by his or her opponent player which often are ignored by the referees. This also are serious offences that can influence the outcome of a match unfairly if allowed to go unpunished. Even when the ball has gone into touch but playing is allowed to continue as the linesman failed to flag should also be covered by the VRAs. So too a rough or deliberate rough tackles or elbow which the referee had allowed to go unpunished by not whistling for a foul and carding should also be covered by the VRAs.

    Since the introduction of the VRAs are still in their elementary introduction stages, I believe the introducers of the technology will improved on it’s scope of coverage in the games with minimum delays as time goes on.

    Nonetheless, the call for VRA during a game should not be limited to the instance of the match referee alone, the men manning the machine should be free to make a call when the VAR has seen an offence worthy of a call which the match referee and his linesmen had missed or ignored.

    When the VARs are fully introduced in the Premier League, I believe Arsenal will be a great beneficiary of the positives the VRAs will bring into the PL as the Pgmol manipulation of the results in the PL games to the detriment of Arsenal in games they are involved will be reduced to the barest minimum.

  • Gord

    I think the part about not giving a yellow on the issuance of a penalty is potentially a mistake. The reason is, that the accumulation of yellow cards can lead to a ban. Now the person giving up the penalty can (could?) be guilt of one more occurence before the ban takes effect (or many more, for multiple penalty incidents).

    Of course, if the disciplinary committee decides to treat the giving up of a penalty as the same as a yellow card, there is no problem here.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I hope that it becomes a success and all that stupid mistakes are properly eliminated from the games.
    As ARSENAL 13 says , cricket has benefited from it , and the crowd sees what the VT reviewing official sees and also his findings are heard by all . It all takes less than a minute.
    And less time then the keeper having a drink ; wiping his face with his towel; placing the ball in the wrong place ; kicking out mud and sod from his boots on the upright ; ‘realising ‘ his mistake and replacing the ball in the ‘right’ place ; waving to his players to move forward or to one side or the other and then passing to his nearby defender !

    Or the tv showing AW trying to zip up his overcoat !
    Robbie Savage could always save time by shutting up – that’ll be an improvement !

  • JP

    Sorry, I know this is a bit off topic, but it is an interesting development nonetheless. I have quoted an article from Supersport in my native South Africa below:

    It is early showers for Ghana Premier League Referee Justice Adu Poku as was suspended for the rest of the league season.

    The young referee has been deemed guilty by the Ghana FA’s Match Review Panel of awarding a bad penalty in a match-day six fixture.

    Referee Adu Poku’s penalty call in the 57th minute saw WAFA SC draw level against Tema Youth before going on to score again and secure the full points with a 2-1 scoreline at home few weeks ago.

    A decision by the Review Panel upheld by the Ghana FA Executive Committee said “after thoroughly watching the video clip” it concluded that “the referee awarded a very bad penalty against Tema Youth FC.”

    It added: “the referee’s position on the field of play was such that he could not have seen clearly the infringement he claimed to have seen. His defence before the review panel was unsuccessful and cannot be taken into consideration.”

    The statement from the Ghana FA was however silent on the referee’s status in the Cup games.


    Referee Justice Adu Poku says he intends to file for a review of the decision to suspend him from the remaining 22 games of the Premier League.

    “After watching the tape again before the panel, I realised making a wrong call and admitted it. During the game I saw there was contact but the replays have shown otherwise.

    “I intend to appeal this decision. I feel it is too harsh on me; it is like killing a butterfly with an AK47. This is my first mistake in three years as a Premier League referee,” he said.

    Referee Adu Poku’s punishment comes a week after Fifa banned his compatriot JO Lamptey for a similar offence in a World Cup qualifying game between South Africa and Senegal.

    Why can we not have the same type of scrutiny and suspensions in the EPL?

  • Menace

    JP – honestly are you looking for flying pigs? there is no structure for anything in the EPL that is open to appeal or question. The FA are the ultimate with no requirement to publicise why or how any decisions are made.