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Video refereeing returns to Club World Cup

Experimental system drew wrath after debuting in Japan last year

Image Credit: AP
Referee Rosario Abisso (left) checks the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) during a Serie A match last week between Roma and Spal at the Olympic stadium in Rome.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) will again be trialed at the Fifa Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi after debuting in last year’s tournament in Japan.

Last year, the system, which allows the referee to consult with video replays before making a potentially match-changing decision, was labelled confusing by players and coaches.

The system was twice called into effect in Japan for a penalty awarded to Japan’s Kashima Antlers in their 3-0 semi-final win over Colombia’s Atletico Nacional, and for a last minute goal by Ronaldo in Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Mexican side Club America.

“We need to get used to it if that’s Fifa’s policy,” said Real coach Zinedine Zidane at the time. “But if you want my personal impression, it could cause confusion. That’s my personal opinion.

“Fifa’s technical group will make a good decision, and we don’t have the power to decide so we need to get used to whatever is decided. I think it could be better because everything becomes very clear and transparent,” he added on a positive note.

Real midfielder Luka Modric said: “It’s a new system and I don’t like it very much.

“I think it can cause confusion and it hasn’t been explained to us in detail. I don’t like football with this kind of system. I just want to focus on the match and play my football. My first impression of it is not good.”

VARs is currently on a two-year trial and experiments are being conducted across 20 countries ahead of it being rolled out at the Fifa World Cup in Russia next summer.

The referee will always have the first and final say but the system will enable him or her to review incidents such as goals, penalty decisions, direct red cards or cases of mistaken identity.

They will be able to call-through to a panel of referees sitting off-field who are watching the replay to gauge general consensus on a decision. While it could prevent costly wrong decisions being made traditionalists fear it might disrupt the flow of a game.