FIFA boss wants video refs at 2018 World Cup

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

YOKO­HAMA: FIFA pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino hopes to see video referees used at the 2018 World Cup in Rus­sia—if its teething prob­lems have been fixed in time.

Colom­bia’s Atletico Na­cional slammed the new video as­sis­tant ref­eree (VAR) tech­nol­ogy be­ing tri­alled at the Club World Cup in Ja­pan af­ter the first-ever penalty awarded un­der the sys­tem helped knock them out mid­week.

Real Madrid were also luke­warm af­ter con­fu­sion around a Cris­tiano Ron­aldo goal in another game, but In­fantino promised FIFA would iron out the glitches.

“It’s still pre­ma­ture to say when we will go live with this sys­tem,” he told re­porters yes­ter­day. “But I hope at the next World Cup the test re­sults will be pos­i­tive enough to be able to im­ple­ment it.”

In­fantino praised the de­ci­sion to award Ja­pan’s Kashima Antlers a penalty against the South Amer­i­can cham­pi­ons. “The ref­eree didn’t see the play and his non-de­ci­sion could be cor­rected thanks to the video tech­nol­ogy,” he said on the eve of the fi­nal be­tween Real and Kashima. “The time it took (to award the spot kick) lasted too long, that’s some­thing we can work on. “But the right de­ci­sion was taken and the penalty awarded, which was cor­rect.”

Chaos fol­lowed Ron­aldo’s late goal in a 2-0 vic­tory over Club Amer­ica a day later, when it ap­peared video tech­nol­ogy could have ruled out the ef­fort.

Ron­aldo’s cel­e­bra­tions were briefly cut short be­fore the goal was con­firmed. In­fantino blamed the con­fu­sion on the video as­sis­tant press­ing the in­ter­com while con­sult­ing col­leagues, con­fus­ing the match ref­eree. “The Ron­aldo goal was a com­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sue,” said In­fantino, who later con­firmed that 12 na­tional as­so­ci­a­tions have signed up to trial the sys­tem. Real mid­fielder Luka Mo­dric crit­i­cised the sys­tem af­ter the game. “I’m sure Mo­dric will be happy next time, if he wins a match be­cause of it,” said In­fantino. “Even if it takes a few sec­onds to make the de­ci­sion, the bot­tom line is the de­ci­sions were right.”

FIFA’s tech­ni­cal de­vel­op­ment chief Marco van Bas­ten echoed his boss’s sen­ti­ments. “It can only be bet­ter with VAR be­cause there are more eyes,” said the former Dutch goal ma­chine. “Mo­dric was a lit­tle bit con­fused like ev­ery­body was af­ter Ron­aldo’s goal,” he added. “That hap­pened un­for­tu­nately, but it prob­a­bly won’t hap­pen next time so I’m sure Mr Mo­dric will be a happy fel­low.” Play­ers have com­plained that it holds up play, with Na­cional mid­fielder Ma­teus Uribe call­ing it “an­noy­ing.” But In­fantino hit back, ar­gu­ing that play­ers spend more time feign­ing in­jury than it takes video as­sis­tants to re­view footage.

“We don’t want the flow of the game in­ter­rupted but what is 30 sec­onds or one minute in a World Cup if you can win or lose a fi­nal be­cause of a mis­take by the ref­eree?” he said.

“How much time do play­ers waste in a match when they fall down? “For over 50 years there has been dis­cus­sion and FIFA has been crit­i­cised for re­fus­ing to use video as­sis­tance,” In­fantino added. “Now we have made his­tory here in Ja­pan. We are in a test phase and it needs to be fine-tuned but VAR can de­liver min­i­mum in­ter­fer­ence for max­i­mum ben­e­fit.”

—AP

YOKO­HAMA: In this Dec. 15, 2016 file photo, a mon­i­tor used by the video as­sis­tant ref­eree (VARs) is set up on the side­lines of Yoko­hama In­ter­na­tional Sta­dium be­fore the semi­fi­nal match be­tween Real Madrid and Club Amer­ica, at the FIFA Club World Cup soc­cer tour­na­ment in Yoko­hama, near Tokyo.

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