Watch: Video Assistant Referees make FIFA debut

Video replay technology was used to award a penalty kick in a FIFA competition on Wednesday in Japan.
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Video replay technology was used to award a penalty kick for the first time in FIFA competition on Wednesday at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan.

The tournament is the site of FIFA’s first live trial of Video Assistant Referees, enabling officials on the field to review video footage on a pitch-side monitor while receiving advice from the VAR reviewing footage behind the scenes.

Referee Viktor Kassai headed over to the pitch-side monitor after a Kashima Antlers player was tripped during a free kick inside the penalty box with no call assessed on the field. Video Assistant Referee Danny Makkelie had notified Kassai of a possible missed incident of a game-changing play. After the review, Kassai ruled that the player had been tripped inside the penalty area by an Atletico Nacional player. The penalty kick was successful, with the goal resulting in a 1–0 lead for Kashima on its way to a 3–0 win in a semifinal match.

In a previous match, Makkelie was the referee on the field during a VAR review deciding whether a red card should be issued. This play in Japan in which Makkelie served as the VAR directly resulted in a goal.

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“This is the first-ever live trial with Video Assistant Referees at a FIFA competition, so this is something that is new for everyone—especially to see the referee run to the video replay area at the side of the field,” Massimo Busacca, FIFA’s head of refereeing, said in a statement.

“In the incident tonight, the communication between the referee and the video assistant referee was clear, the technology worked well, and ultimately the final decision was taken by the referee, which will always be the case since the VARs are only there to support.”

The live test concludes at the end of the tournament, but more are expected worldwide as FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said he favors VAR being implemented for the 2018 World Cup.

“We’ll be wanting to look at how often video reviews are used and how often a referee confirms or changes a decision based solely on the information from the Video Assistant Referee or after an on-field review,” David Elleray, technical director of the International Football Association Board, said in a statement.

“More importantly, we will want to examine how the VAR system impacts on the behavior of players, the behavior of referees, the response of fans in the stadium and the response of people watching on television. So there will be a great deal of information that we’ll need before The IFAB takes a final decision on the implementation of VARs in 2018, or 2019 at the latest.”