There will be many who will be interested to hear the outcome of some live experiments on referees last week. No need for rude comments!
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) with the co=operation of Major League Soccer (MLS) organised a workshop in New Jersey which saw the first ever live experiments with video assistant referees.
Twenty Leagues and associations from around the world attended the workshop and all were given the option to host sanctioned trials over the next two years. Six countries have already confirmed their participation, and they are hoping that others will also sign up.
Those who attended the workshop held at the Red Bull Arena were shown how the Video Assistant Referee system works in the control room and how the main referee will go to the side of the pitch on certain occasions to review video footage on a playback device. Those attending were also given head sets to hear how the communication works between the Video Assistant Referee and the on pitch referee, when a review is required.
The overall objective of the experiment is to answer the question as to whether the implementation of video assistant referees will improve the game, and ensure that outcomes in key games are correct. All involved also want to understand the impact on the game from introducing such a system for all involved, including referees, players, coaches, officials, and fans.
The key areas where the Video Assistant Referee system will be used are with disputed goals. A referee can ask for a video assessment as to whether there was an infringement, or whether the ball crossed the line or not.
It will also be used in the case of mistaken identity if a player protests it was not hime who committed a foul when booked, but his team mate. It can be used to determine whether a penalty should or should not be awarded and also to review red card incidents and determine whether a player warrants being sent off.
Competitions to have already signed up to be a part of the experiment are in Australia, Brazil, Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands. The United States became the first to agree to the requirements drawn up by The IFAB and FIFA to participate in the experiments.
The FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016 in December is set to serve as a dress rehearsal before IFAB authorises “live” tests in 2017.
This may be the biggest change in football in years and it will be interesting to see how it works and whether it cleans up the game and stops players feigning fouls. It will also be interesting to see how the fans react. With recent figures showing that globally fans are staying at home to watch sport rather than attend live events, then the argument that it will ruin it for the fans may well fall on deaf ears. Time will most definitely tell.