VAR approved by football lawmakers at FIFA headquarters

IFAB has approved use of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) following a trial

Football lawmakers have approved the introduction of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) on a permanent basis, following a two-year trial period.

The International Football Association Board, IFAB, reached a unanimous agreement at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Saturday morning.

VAR has been trialled in some FA Cup and Carabao Cup games this season, but following Saturday’s ruling all competitions in world football can now use VAR without permission.

Following the announcement, FIFA president Gianni Infantino confirmed the decision on whether to use VAR in this summer’s World Cup will be made when the council meets in Bogota, Colombia on March 16.

Infantino urged FIFA council members to back the technology for the World Cup: “Of course it will have an impact on the World Cup and on the matches, and it will have a positive impact on the matches, this is what the studies show.

“It’s almost perfect. Perfection in our world does not exist, but VAR certainly gets us closer. I was extremely sceptical personally on VAR, but we tested it, and I personally came quite a long way.

“I can guarantee our referees which will be at the World Cup will be ready. They have trained for the last two years.”

It is understood Premier League clubs will discuss VAR technology next month and are yet to decide whether to use the new system.

A Premier League statement read: “We are open to considering new technology that assists match officials without disrupting the flow of the game, and are monitoring closely the Video Assistant Referee trials being conducted in other competitions.

“The evidence and learning provided by those trials will inform further discussions with our clubs later this season.”

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin says VAR will not be used in the Champions League next season.

Summary of VAR experiment results (IFAB)

  • 972 competitive matches in more than 20 associations and competitions
  • Accuracy of final decision with VAR is 98.8%
  • Average of fewer than five checks per match
  • 68.8% of matches had no review
  • On average, ‘clear and obvious error’ corrected in 18 out of 19 matches
  • Average time ‘lost’ due to VAR activity is 55 seconds of playing time

There were two other significant developments at the IAFB AGM on Saturday.

The option of an additional substitute will be allowed in extra time, following a two-year experiment.

Football lawmakers have also approved further trials of red and yellow cards for coaches or team officials who behave poorly on the touchline following the IFAB initiative ‘Play fair!’, aimed at improving behaviour and increasing respect.

Any competition can trial the initiative, subject to IFAB permission.