Video replays to correct refereeing mistakes are set to be recommended for use at this summer’s World Cup — and everywhere else next season — at a key meeting in Zurich on Jan. 22.
The five members of football’s law-making body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), are gathering at FIFA’s headquarters in Switzerland for their annual business meeting. This meeting will set the agenda for IFAB’s annual general meeting, which is where changes to football’s laws are approved.
Football is arguably the last of the major global sports to fully embrace video technology but, having finally decided to trial video assistant referees (VARs) in 2016, the decision at IFAB’s annual general meeting in Zurich on March 2 is now widely believed to be a formality.
Those trials have taken place in 15 national leagues, including the Bundesliga, Major League Soccer and Serie A, as well as several FIFA competitions, and their results have been analysed by Belgium’s top university KU Leuven.
IFAB will publish the most recent data from the pilots in the week before the Jan. 22 meeting, and they are expected to show that decisions have been corrected once every three games and the average time taken on each review has been greatly reduced as officials have become more used to the system.
A spokesperson for IFAB told Press Association Sport these results will be discussed at the meeting and a vote will be held to provide an “indicative recommendation” to the AGM.
As a reflection of British football’s role in the game’s development, IFAB is comprised of the football associations of the four home nations, each with a single vote, and FIFA, which has four votes and the deciding vote in the result of a tie.
The Jan. 22 meeting will be chaired by FIFA’s general secretary Fatma Samoura and attended by the chief executives of the English, Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh FAs, as well as technical experts.
FIFA has made no secret of its desire to use VARs at Russia 2018 and has already, in its view, successfully trialled them at several age-group tournaments, two Club World Cups and last summer’s World Cup dress rehearsal, the Confederations Cup.
The Irish Football Association (IFA) has already said it will be voting for VARs after Northern Ireland’s World Cup hopes were ended when Corry Evans was wrongly adjudged to have handled the ball in November’s play-off against Switzerland.
IFAB’s plan for video reviews is that they are only used in four circumstances: to decide if goals should be awarded, penalty decisions, red-card incidents and rare cases of mistaken identity.
The FA ran a “non-live” VAR trial during November’s England-Germany friendly at Wembley but the first real use of the system in England will take place in Monday’s FA Cup third-round tie between Brighton and Crystal Palace, with the second use coming two days later when Chelsea host Arsenal in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semifinal.