The World Cup is set to begin on the 14th of June and for the first time the video assistant referee (VAR) will be used at the finals.
So what will it do?
VAR will be available to help guide match officials at the tournament on incidents be it build up to goals, offsides, penalties, as well as straight red cards or cases of mistaken identity. It will only be used to correct clear and obvious errors and missed incidents according to FIFA.
How does it work?
Their is a team of four members, three of which are called assistant video referees and then of course the video assistant referee. All of the officials are top level FIFA recognised and some will also be on pitch referees and officials at games throughout the tournament.
The team will be based in an off-site room at the International Broadcast Centre in Moscow, with camera feeds from the 12 stadiums that are hosting games and a radio link with the referee provided through a fibre optic network. There will be access to 33 cameras in each stadium eight which are super slow motion and 4 ultra slow motion. These would be cameras placed by FIFA. There are 2 offside cameras in either half of the field, these have virtual lines which will help the three assistant video referees make the correct call. The team will review all goals for fouls and offsides, potential or awarded penalties, as well as red cards and mistaken identity cases, they will then alert the referee through the radio system in place with the judgement on the decision they made.
If the referee wishes he can decide to rely on the information that was given from the video assistant referee or they can review the video footage themselves in a booth which will be on the sideline before making their final decision. The referee will announce that a VAR will be needed by holding hand up to ear or drawing a rectangle with their hands in the air to signal for an on pitch review. There has been some debate on whether it works effectively as it has taken up large time especially in the FA Cup last season when some strange decisions were made. However, the football governing body, FIFA, have said that they promise better communication this summer, saying broadcasters will be kept up to date during reviews, while graphics will also be provided, as well as big screens in the stadium for fans to see the outcome of decisions relating to VAR.
It remains to be seen if there will be controversy around VAR in the World Cup, I guess we just have to sit back and wait see what happens over the next few weeks.