Smile, you’re on cam­era

Ma­jor League Soc­cer rolls out video re­view this week­end — on cer­tain plays

Cape Breton Post - - Sports - BY NEIL DAVID­SON

First in the stand­ings, Toronto FC will also be one of the first MLS teams to ex­pe­ri­ence video re­view this week­end.

Toronto’s game at D.C. United and FC Dal­las’ match in Philadel­phia, both 7 p.m. ET starts Saturday, kick off Week 22 — which also sig­nals the in­tro­duc­tion of a video as­sis­tant ref­eree (VAR) at all league matches.

MLS joins Aus­tralia’s ALeague and South Korea’s KLeague in im­ple­ment­ing video re­view. Ger­many’s Bun­desliga and Italy’s Serie A are launch­ing it in the 2017-18 sea­son.

It was also used ear­lier this sum­mer at the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup in Rus­sia.

Video re­view is to be used for “po­ten­tial clear and ob­vi­ous er­rors or se­ri­ous missed in­ci­dents” in four spe­cific sit­u­a­tions: goals, penalty kicks, straight red cards and cases of mis­taken iden­tity.

The video as­sis­tant ref­eree be­comes a fifth mem­ber of the of­fi­ci­at­ing crew, work­ing out of a booth with ac­cess to all avail­able match broad­cast re­plays. They are cer­ti­fied ref­er­ees, trained in the video re­view pro­to­col by the Pro­fes­sional Ref­eree Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The video as­sis­tant ref­eree will check plays that fall un­der

the pro­to­col as the match goes on, alert­ing the head ref­eree if a re­view is required. Fi­nal de­ci­sion goes to the on-field ref­eree, who can rely on the ad­vice of VAR to up­hold or over­turn the

orig­i­nal de­ci­sion or watch the re­play him­self on a side­line mon­i­tor.

The VAR can also check a play lead­ing up to one of the re­view­able in­ci­dents, such as a foul that paved the way to a goal or penalty. But once there is a stop­page of play af­ter the in­ci­dent and play restarts be­fore the in­ci­dent is checked, the win­dow for a check is over.

That may prompt ref­er­ees to de­lay restart­ing play, with a fin­ger to their ear piece and arm out­stretched, to al­low the VAR to check the play.

Any time taken up by the re­view, will be added to stop­page time.

The video re­view mantra is “Min­i­mum in­ter­fer­ence - max­i­mum ben­e­fit.”

“Video re­view will not change the ba­sic way the game is played,” says Howard Webb, the for­mer elite ref­eree who man­ages PRO’s video as­sis­tant ref­eree oper­a­tions. “Nor are we aim­ing for 100 per cent ac­cu­racy. Ref­er­ees make hun­dreds of de­ci­sions in ev­ery game and if we checked ev­ery sin­gle one, it would change the way the game is played.

“But video re­view will im­prove the game and give the ref­er­ees the help that they need.”

Some 90 test games pro­duced a to­tal of 701 checks — an av­er­age of 8.9 per game. That trans­lated into a to­tal of just 26 re­views — 0.36 a game.

Only the head ref­eree can ini­ti­ate video re­view. Play­ers or team staff who call for a re­view will be cau­tioned.

Toronto man­ager Greg Van­ney says his ad­vice to play­ers is to play their game with­out think­ing about the re­view tech­nol­ogy.

“Don’t as­sume any­thing is be­ing re­viewed. Don’t as­sume any­thing. Just play the game as if noth­ing is go­ing on,” he said af­ter train­ing Thurs­day.

“We can’t be paus­ing and wait­ing for a call or wait­ing for the ref­eree to tell us he’s do­ing some­thing. Every­thing has to be sta­tus quo for us.”

The Toronto team was briefed on video re­view be­fore the re­cent New York FC game.

“I know the guys I talked to af­ter we had that lit­tle sem­i­nar, we had a much bet­ter feel­ing about the im­ple­men­ta­tion of VAR,” said Toronto goal­keeper Alex Bono.

Bono, for one, is go­ing in with an open mind.

“They’re sup­posed to take the hu­man er­ror out of the big de­ci­sions of the game. And to me, that’s some­thing that can only help the game.”

Toronto cap­tain Michael Bradley de­scribes him­self as old-school when it come to such soc­cer tech­nol­ogy but ac­knowl­edges it is part of the game’s fu­ture.

“I’m not a huge fan per­son­al­ity,” he said. “With all this stuff, I tend to be more of a tra­di­tion­al­ist.”

He sees the hu­man fac­tor, both with of­fi­cials and play­ers, as part of the free-flow­ing na­ture of soc­cer.

AP PHOTO

In this July 11 photo, MLS ref­eree Sil­viu Pe­trescu raises a yel­low card against a player af­ter us­ing video re­play dur­ing scrim­mages or­ga­nized in a com­mu­nity park in Park City, Utah.

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