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Former English Ref Gives Yellow Card to Soccer's Video Replay

11 Oct, 2016

By: Michael Popke

Although live experimentation with Video Assisted Relay (VAR) continues in the United Soccer League, FIFA’s attempt to integrate the technology is being met with grumpy reaction by some.  

“Of course, we should welcome anything which helps get decisions right, but we have to be careful,” warned former English Premier League referee Howard Webb after FIFA successfully conducted its first official “semi-live” VAR test during a friendly between Italy and France in Bari earlier this month. “If all decisions can be reviewed by video, referees on the pitch become nothing more than remote-controlled referees.”

FIFA officials seemed pleased with the results of that first VAR test and are keen to do more. This is big news, considering that soccer is notorious for adhering to tradition.

As SportsTechie reports, FIFA President Gianni Infantino “clarified after the match that in spite of the technology integration, referees would be the main decision-makers.”

In the Italy-France friendly, VAR was used to assist the referee “in the event of a clear error in a match-changing decision or a serious missed incident,” according to FIFA.com. Two calls were addressed: One helped the referee determine that a yellow card would suffice over a red card for a foul, and the other overruled a penalty kick decision.

FIFA’s next VAR test run will happen Nov. 15 when Italy meets Germany in Milano.

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