Video assistant referees (VARs) will be used at the World Cup for the first time in this year’s finals in Russia, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Friday, and teams will be allowed a fourth substitute in matches that go to extra-time.
The use of the VAR system was approved earlier this month by the rule-making body IFAB, despite controversy in some of the competitions in which it has been trialled over the time taken to make decisions and lack of information for spectators.
“We are going to have our first World Cup with video assisted refereeing,” Infantino told reporters after a meeting of the FIFA Council.
It’s not possible that, in 2018, everyone in the stadium and their living room knows if a referee has made a big mistake or not, and the only one who doesn’t know is the referee.
The system allows the referee or the video assistant to review decisions where a “clear and obvious” error is spotted. It has been trialled in Germany’s Bundesliga and Italy’s Serie A this season and some English FA and League Cup games, among others.
Infantino said VAR had been shown to reduce the number of refereeing mistakes in matches where it has been used and would help football become “a fairer and more transparent sport”.
“It’s not possible that, in 2018, everyone in the stadium and their living room knows if a referee has made a big mistake or not, and the only one who doesn’t know is the referee,” Infantino added.
Infantino had repeatedly promised that VAR would be used at the June 14-July 15 World Cup and has made it one of his priorities since being elected FIFA chief in February, 2016.
FIFA later said in a statement that, where matches went to extra-time, teams would be allowed a fourth substitute, a rule change also approved by IFAB.