BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - FIFA President Gianni Infantino has not had any second thoughts about using video assistant referees (VAR) at this year’s World Cup, he told Reuters on Monday, despite recent controversies involving the new technology.
His UEFA counterpart Aleksander Ceferin said, however, that the system would not be used in next season’s Champions League.
VAR, which allows match referee to review decisions on a pitchside monitor or by consulting an assistant who monitors the game on a video, has been trialled in a number of competitions over the past year.
Soccer’s law-making body IFAB is expected to decide on Saturday whether to authorise its use on a permanent basis and Infantino has said that, if VAR is approved, FIFA will use it at this year’s World Cup in Russia.
However, it has proved controversial especially in Italy’s Serie A where there have been cases of penalties being revoked after a wait of several minutes or goals being disallowed for minor infringements after similar delays.
Critics say it has taken the spontaneity out of the sport and left fans confused.
“We have to base decisions on facts and not feelings,” Infantino said on the sidelines of the UEFA Congress.
“The facts are that from almost 1,000 matches which were tested, the accuracy rate of the referees went up from 93 percent to 99 percent.
“If we, or I, can do something to make sure that the World Cup is not decided by a referee’s mistakes, then I think it’s our duty to do it.
“Much more time is wasted on throw-ins or free kicks, rather than on correcting a potentially wrong decision with VAR, so I’m still very positive.”
Infantino added that controversy was part and parcel of Serie A - with or without VAR.
“If you lose the match, before it was the fault of the referee, now it’s the fault of VAR...that’s part of the customs, of the traditions of Italian football as well,” he said.
Ceferin later told a news conference he was not necessarily against VAR but that it needed more time.
“We will not use it in the Champions League next season,” he said.
“I see a lot of confusion...I think there is no way back any more but we have to educate the referees properly, we have to explain to the fans when it can be used.
“Fans keep seeing the (VAR) screen all the time but nobody knows how it works. For me, it might be a good project but we shouldn’t rush it.”
Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond