Head referee negotiator for Serie A, Nicola Rizzoli, says that the use of Video Assistant Referees in Italy is improving, but referees need more experience with the technology for it to be optimised to its full potential.
However, he admits that VAR has sometimes caused confusion when it comes to the interpretation of a decision. Video replays should be used only in clear situations where there a obvious errors.
In a review by Sky Sports Italia of how VAR has fared in its first season in Serie A, Rizzoli has stated that VAR has made "16-18" errors throughout the season.
But so far, 1566 individual controlled episodes have be analysed by VAR. Of those, there were 94 cases where the decision was changed. That averages to once every 3.12 matches. And of those 94 cases, 75 times did referees decide to refer to the video review.
So putting those errors into the context of the whole season, some teething issues were to be expected. As Rizzoli explained:
"Technology doesn't make you immune to mistakes, it's impossible. The objective is to reduce the number of errors."
The next step for VAR would be to see technology applied homogeneously throughout football. For that to happen, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) must evaluate the results of VAR in Serie A and the other domestic leagues it is currently being used in.
"We're following a very strict, international protocol," Rizzoli added, "which is to eliminate the discretion of incidents as much as possible. We want to follow VAR worldwide, We must refer to an international protocol, one on a global scale."
But there is still room for improvement. For Rizzoli, VAR can only be a success if it is used chiefly for situations where there are clear and obvious errors. VAR cannot be used in matters of subjectivity:
"Technology must intervene in key situations. Let's say that the referee, talking to the VAR, says, 'for me, the defender touched the ball, it’s not a penalty', while the VAR replies, 'no, you were wrong, he didn't touch it, go and review it."
"We are improving, we are improving a lot. I think we need more experience with it to reach a level that can be defined as optimal, but we are on the right track. "