VAR has helped refereeing at Russia 2018 – FIFA

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Pierluigi Collina, the head of FIFA’s Referees Committee, on Friday in Moscow said the world football governing body was satisfied so far with officiating at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The Italian, who is a former referee, also said FIFA was satisfied with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system it has introduced to the competition at this edition in Russia.

The officiating, and the VAR introduction, has left much to be desired at the competition so far.

While many coaches and players have had cause to question the use of VAR, others have, however, praised its usage.

“Ninety-five per cent of the decisions taken initially by referees had been correct and this has been raised to 99.3 percent, thanks to the intervention of VAR.

“And, we would have preferred to say 100 per cent but 99.3 per cent is something that is very, very close to perfection.

“I think that 99.3 percent accuracy is an acceptable figure after these 48 matches,” he told reporters at a media briefing on refereeing at the competition.

Collina, however, warned that much should not have been expected from the VAR, saying “it doesn’t mean perfection. There can still be some wrong interpretations or mistakes”.

He disclosed that 335 decisions had been checked in the 48 group stage matches and there had been 17 VAR reviews.

“Fourteen of them had been on the field, while three were by the VAR assistants,’’ the former World Cup referee said.

He also disclosed that the average time taken for a VAR decision was 80 seconds.

“The VAR prefers to spend five or 10 seconds more to be very, very sure,” Collina said.

“Accuracy is very important even if it costs 10 seconds, the important thing is to achieve the correct result.”

Also addressing reporters at the news conference, Massimo Busacca, FIFA’s Director of Refereeing, also echoed Collina’s argument on the video replay system for decisions in the group stage.

“After 48 games, we haven’t had a single scandal, and that’s very important,”  he said.

Bussaca and Collina used several key incidents in which VAR was used in the matches played to support their argument.

A screen was set up and reporters were able to hear the conversations between the video and on-pitch officials.

One of them was South Korea’s first goal in their 2-0 win over Germany which resulted in the elimination of the world champions.

The goal was initially disallowed for offside, but allowed to stand after a VAR review showed that the ball came off a German player before Kim Young-gwon put it in the net.

Collina said the goal could have been awarded without a pitchside review.

“It was a good idea to make an on-field review to show that the incident had been checked by everyone,’’ he said.

The 2018 World Cup in Russia is the first to use VARs who monitor the game on television screens and communicate with the pitch official.

The VARs check decisions which can potentially change the outcome of a game.

If they feel the pitch referee has made the wrong call, they suggest to him to review the incident on a pitchside monitor.