Video assistant referees (VARs) - key questions

14 June 2017 08:39

England's 3-2 defeat to France on Tuesday featured the Three Lions' first encounter with the new system of video assistant referees (VARs).

The penalty from which Harry Kane scored his and England's second goal was only awarded after a video review - part of a trial period instigated by the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

Here, we address the key questions about VARs.

So, what happened on Tuesday?

Early in the second half, England's Dele Alli tangled with Raphael Varane in the penalty area. Referee Davide Massa awarded a penalty before referring the incident to VARs Marco Guida and Massimiliano Irrati, who upheld their fellow Italian's decision. Varane was sent off and Kane scored the spot-kick.

Hold on, didn't this happen to France before?

Les Bleus have had no luck in the early days of the review system. During their 2-0 friendly defeat to Spain in March, technology was deployed twice - first to disallow a goal by Antoine Griezmann after replays showed he was marginally offside, then to award Spain's second after the flag had initially been raised in error against goalscorer Gerard Deulofeu.

When will we see VARs in use in major competitions?

A two-year period of "live experiments" was approved at March 2016's meeting of the IFAB, which hopes to make a decision about VARs in time for the 2018 World Cup - or, failing that, no later than 2019. The Football Association hopes to start using VARs from the third round onward of next season's FA Cup.

Doesn't it slow the game down?

To an extent, though the IFAB has trumpeted the policy of "minimum interference - maximum benefit". In practice, that means the use of the system will be limited to decisions over goals, penalties, straight red card offences and cases of mistaken identity - although there is no time limit on a review as the IFAB has stressed that "accuracy is more important than speed". The on-field referee must first make a decision, with the review only overturning the call if there is a clear error.

So the referee is still in control?

Yes. Reviews are initiated by the referee, who signals the process by drawing an imaginary TV screen with his or her hands as in cricket and rugby. The VAR can recommend a review but the on-field referee has the final say and is free to decline. Players attempting to influence the referee by making the review signal will be yellow-carded.

Source: PA

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