The development came after the annual business meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the sport’s rule-making body, at Fifa headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland yesterday (Monday).
“Definitely VAR will happen,” Fifa chief commercial officer Philippe Le Floc’h told the Associated Press news agency. “It’s great to have technology in football because this is also a fair(ness) thing.”
VAR was used for the first time in a competitive English club game earlier this month as Brighton & Hove Albion defeated Crystal Palace 2-1 in the third round of the FA Cup. It was announced last month that Ligue 1 is set to become the latest major European league to adopt VAR after the French Football League (LFP) approved the system for full introduction from the 2018-19 season.
VAR is set to be used to determine contentious issues such as the award of goals and penalties, decisions over direct red cards and cases of mistaken identity. The LFP’s decision came after LaLiga president Javier Tebas in November confirmed that the top division of Spanish football would adopt VAR from the 2018-19 season. The technology is already in place in the German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, Portuguese Primeira Liga and North America’s Major League Soccer.
Leagues that use the extra technology feature a fifth match official who studies video footage of an incident before a decision is reached by the referee. VARs were used during the 2017 Fifa Confederations Cup national team event in Russia and were also utilised during the 2017 Fifa Club World Cup in the UAE.
VAR usage at the World Cup could lead to delays in games in Russia as different replays are reviewed, potentially allowing Fifa to brand the segment on the global broadcast feed. “We are talking to various technological companies who are very interested with what we are doing on the technology side of things,” Le Floc’h said.
Monday’s meeting gathered together IFAB technical experts, Fifa refereeing officials, and researchers from the University of Leuven in Belgium, who have studied use of video review in 804 games across more than 20 competitions. “The discussions we had today do not indicate that further experiments need to be conducted,” Johannes Holzmueller, Fifa’s lead official for technological innovation, said.
Fifa controls half the votes that will be behind the IFAB’s final decision, with the other voters being the four British football associations.