Soccer: VAR to Debut in Russian World Cup Despite “Imperfection”

Video Assistant Referees (VARs) that will be making their debut in the World Cup in Russia on Thursday will not have perfect technology, FIFA’s director of refereeing Massimo Busacca admitted.

“If we say now yes to (having VAR in) this World Cup, it’s because we think we are ready,” Busacca said at a news conference on Tuesday. “But don’t think that it will be perfect. We are looking to have an incredible uniformity and consistency, but don’t think that technology solves the problem 100 percent… In front of a video, we will always have a human person who is making an interpretation.”

Chairman of FIFA’s referees committee Pierluigi Collina believed the VAR system would help relieve officials’ stress during the tournament. “It would be very, very difficult for someone to change the decision made on the field of play without knowing what happened,” said Collina. “His self-confidence for the rest of the game could be heavily affected.

“That’s why we are convinced that any referee with the possibility to review the incident and change his mind and change his decision will be very helpful in terms of limiting the psychological effects on himself.”

VARs could be used when the officials have made a ‘clear and obvious error’ in one of four eras: goals, penalties, straight red cards and mistaken identity. Concerns have arisen that the use of VARs would be disruptive to the flow of the match, and remain vulnerable to interpretation mistakes.

The VAR system was approved for tournament use in March.