FIFA president Gianni Infantino claims video assistants can minimise refereeing mistakes but insisted the technology will not “cannibalise” football.
Infantino was “very impressed” by the use of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) during Italy’s 3-1 friendly defeat to France in Bari on Thursday, which helped referee Bjorn Kuipers to make a number of correct decisions.
This ‘semi-live’ approach to VAR testing will continue until 2018, according to Infantino, when the International Football Association Board (IFAB) is due to make a decision on whether or not to introduce the technology into the game.
“With VAR, we help the referees and we protect the game,” Infantino told FIFA.com. “After this very pleasant experience, we will see where the VAR tests are leading us.
“We need more tests. We will continue with testing VAR until 2018 [when the IFAB will decide on VAR].
“We need to and we want to help and protect the referees.”
The ‘semi-live’ test in Bari did not involve Kuipers reviewing any incident on the field; instead he was advised via radio communication with a team of assistants with access to video replays.
FIFA has not introduced on-site screen reviewing in its testing of VAR, and Infantino moved to cool any fears supporters might have about disturbances to the flow of games.
“We must use it in a way that does not have a negative impact on the flow of the game and the game itself,” he said.
“We have to make sure that only clear mistakes are being reviewed by the VARs. Clear mistakes can always happen, but in the future they can be avoided. This way, FIFA can build trust between the fans and the game.
“Incidents where millions of fans witness a clear mistake in a game-changing situation but the refs can’t react, will be strongly minimised in the future.”
He added: “The assistant referees will not be substituted by VAR or any other technology. We will not cannibalise our game.”