World football governing body, FIFA and the International Football Association Board (IFAB) plan introduce of live video assistant referees to address football officiating inaccuracy.
According to a statement issued by FIFA, IFAB approved a detailed set of protocols for the experimental version and agreed they should be conducted for a minimum of two years (2017/2018 season) in order to identify the advantages, disadvantages and worst case scenarios.
The set of protocols were drawn up by IFAB’s Technical Sub-Committee, with support from FIFA’s Technology Innovation Department, followed by discussions with the Football Advisory Panel, as well as football associations, leagues, other sports and technology providers.
FIFA says the expectation of the new innovation is not to achieve 100 percent accuracy in decisions for every single incident, but to avoid clearly incorrect decisions that are pre-defined, game-changing situations such as goals decision, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents and mistaken identity.
According to FIFA, “the IFAB agreed to allow one type of experiment, which will involve a video assistant referee having access to video replays during the match and either reviewing an incident on request by the referee, or communicating with the referee proactively about an incident that he/she may have missed.”
FIFA also stated that a university will be selected to conduct a research on the experiments which will be managed and overseen by IFAB with the support of FIFA. The research will not only focus on refereeing but also on the impact on the game itself, including the emotions of the stakeholders, in order to provide IFAB with a strong basis for the decision making process.
The IFAB will meet with interested competition organizers and FIFA in the coming weeks in order to define a schedule for the next 24 months. This will include a pre-testing phase with an experiment done in a controlled ‘non-live’ environment as well as referee trainings, workshops and onsite preparation for experiments to be implemented in two testing phases across a number of competition leagues, FIFA said.
The experiments of testing phase two will be modified based on findings of testing phase one. FIFA says it will release further information once the schedule is finished.