A global workshop organised by the International Football Association Board this week has seen PRO’s officials involved in the first-ever live Video Assistant Referee trials.
In cooperation with MLS and hosted at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, the three-day workshop provided the attending leagues and associations with the chance to see the technology in action.
MLS confirmed their participation in the experiment at the first meeting back in March, and the only experiments so far have been offline – until now.
This week, the technology has been tested in a live environment for the first time, meaning the VAR and the referee have been communicating during friendly games between local youth teams to reduce clear errors in match-changing situations – goals, penalties, direct red cards and mistaken identity.
“Major League Soccer has long been a proponent of introducing technology where it improves the game,” said Todd Durbin, MLS Executive Vice President, Player Relations & Competition, Player Personnel.
“We are pleased to be among a select group of leagues and associations from around the globe to participate in the video assistant referee project and this first ‘live’ test of the VAR system is an important step toward our ultimate goal of implementing the technology in competitive matches.
“This workshop is also helping us to make progress in important areas such as referee communication and education as well as discuss the unique challenges each competition organiser faces, as we work towards achieving consistent trials.”
Much of The IFAB’s time at this stage is being focused on how to train the referees and VARs. Further experiments, in an offline capacity, are expected to commence in the participating counties from August, followed by live experiments next year.
The IFAB, which is an independent organisation comprised of the football associations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as FIFA, is the only body authorised to decide and agree changes to the Laws of the Game in consultation with the football community, and it will make a decision on whether or not VARs should be introduced in 2018 or 2019.