The Professional Referee Organization is to work closely with Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League to test video assistance for referees in the United States and Canada, it has been announced by The International Football Association Board (IFAB).
MLS will be among the first leagues in the world to participate in developing and testing FIFA’s new Video Assistant Referee (VAR) initiative — the first step towards implementing video review for referees during official MLS competition.
In addition to MLS, the Hyundai A-League in Australia, Germany’s Bundesliga, Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileiro, the Super Cup Supertaça Cândido Oliveira and the Portuguese Cup Taça de Portugal of the Portuguese Football Federation as well as different competitions under the umbrella of the Dutch football association KNVB are scheduled to participate in the Video Assistant Referee project.
The participating leagues and competitions can now begin preparations for testing. MLS, PRO and USL are making preparations for trials in USL matches hosted at MLS and USL venues this summer. These tests will help MLS develop a plan for implementation of video review in MLS matches.
“Major League Soccer has been a strong proponent of using technology in soccer where it enhances the game, and we are pleased to be among the first leagues in the world to participate in the Video Assistant Referee project,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
“We believe the time has come for a mechanism that helps referees avoid clearly incorrect decisions that change the game. We look forward to working with The IFAB and FIFA to test video assistance for our referees.”
Earlier this year, The IFAB approved a detailed set of protocols for the Video Assistant Referee experiments. The Video Assistant Referee will focus on four “game-changing” situations – goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents and mistaken identity.
Goals: The role of VARs is to help the referee to determine whether there was a foul preceding the goal that means a goal should not be awarded. As the ball has crossed the line, the play has already been interrupted so there is no direct impact on the game.
Penalty Decisions: The role of the VARs is to ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made in conjunction with the award or non-award of a penalty kick.
Direct Red Card Incidents: The role of the VARs is to ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made in conjunction with the sending-off of a player.
Mistaken Identity: In situations when the referee cautions or sends off the wrong player, or is unsure which player should be sanctioned, the VARs will inform the referee so that the correct player can be disciplined.
MLS remains in close contact with The IFAB regarding the process. MLS Executive Vice President Competition and Player Relations Todd Durbin and MLS Vice President Competition Jeff Agoos participated in the first workshop on Video Assistant Referees that took place in the Netherlands in May.
Executives from The IFAB and FIFA, along with representatives of other leagues participating in the Video Assistant Referee project, will conduct a second workshop June 8-9 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ.
Additional workshops will take place in the coming months that will go into further detail about the experiments and procedures. The trials are expected to last two years with a subsequent decision by The IFAB potentially in 2018 or in 2019.