Massimo Busacca, Director FIFA Refereeing, and Johannes Holzmüller, FIFA Head of Football Technology Innovation Department will welcome sports journalists tomorrow at the 81th AIPS Congress in Brussels, Belgium.
On May 8th, the first day of the Congress, at Hotel Le Plaza in Brussels, they will present video assistant referee (VAR) to the Congress and explain the finer details of the system to the attending journalists. The new technology will be used at this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
At times, even journalists still have a nebulous understanding of VAR. Director FIFA Refereeing Busacca will offer his expertise and knowledge of the technology.
Today, Busacca heads FIFA refereeing department alongside his Italian counterpart Pierluigi Collina. In his heydays as referee, Busacca was selected for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. He also led the 2009 Champions League final in Rome between Manchester United and FC Barcelona when Lionel Messi headed the Catalans to European Cup glory in a 2-0 win.
Holzmüller joined FIFA in 2008. His department was established after the implementation of goal-line technology in football. Holzmüller’s team is responsible for feasibility analyses of innovations related to the game as well as for the development or global standards for the game.
VAR is also in use in the Belgian topflight, the Jupiler Pro League. The presentation will thus also offer a chance to local journalists to pose questions and clarify any remaining doubts about VAR. VAR applies in four ‘game-changing situations’: goals, penalty decisions, red cards and cases of mistaken identity. “Clear and obvious error" is a catchphrase that doesn't apply. The pertinent question is - was the referee’s decision a ‘very clear’ error? If the VAR judges that there has been a ‘very clear’ error then he will over-rule and direct the referee to award a penalty. However, the final decision always rests with the on-field referee.
Last March IFAB, the International Football Association Board, enshrined VAR into the laws of the game, green lighting the system’s use for the finals in Russia. The FIFA Council later rubber-stamped the decision. At the World Cup, VAR will be set for its first major test. Last month FIFA held a seminar for all the 99 World Cup match officials in Coverciano, Italy, to fine tune VAR and VOR (video operation room) operations.
Recently FIFA announced the list of thirteen VARs that will operate from the IBC in Moscow during the World Cup. FIFA stated that ‘the selection criteria for these VARs were primarily based on their experience as video match officials in their respective association and confederation competitions, in addition to their successful participation in several preparatory seminars and FIFA competitions, where they enhanced their VAR knowledge and skills by using the system.’