Video replay technology has been used in the awarding of a penalty for Japan’s Kashima Antlers during their FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016 semi-final win over South American club champions Atletico Nacional in Osaka, Japan.

On the half-hour mark, after receiving information about a missed incident from Video Assistant Referee Danny Makkelie, referee Viktor Kassai made the signal to indicate that he would conduct an on-field review of footage via the pitch-side monitor.

Prior to that, the assistant referee had correctly applied the ‘wait and see’ technique with regard to the offside position of the player who was fouled. The player was deemed to not be offside, having been unable to challenge the opponent for the ball, and the Hungarian referee subsequently pointed to the penalty spot, having judged from the replay that Daigo Nishi was tripped inside the penalty area by Atletico’s Orlando Berrio. Shoma Doi successfully converted the penalty kick, with the host club going on to win 3-0.

“This is the first-ever live trial with Video Assistant Referees at a FIFA competition, so this is something that is new for everyone – especially to see the referee run to the video replay area at the side of the field,” said Massimo Busacca, FIFA’s Head of Refereeing.

“In the incident tonight, the communication between the referee and the video assistant referee was clear, the technology worked well, and ultimately the final decision was taken by the referee, which will always be the case since the VARs are only there to support.”

According to the experiment protocol drawn up by The IFAB, referees have the option to confirm or change a decision either by relying solely on information provided by the VAR or by reviewing the footage themselves – especially when it’s a matter of interpretation, rather than a factual decision.

“The clear message we’ve got from players and coaches throughout the world is that they would like the referee on the day to remain the main decision maker and that’s why the option is always there to go and look at the footage directly,” said David Elleray, Technical Director of The IFAB.

The trial with video replay technology at the FIFA Club World Cup marks the end of the testing phase for the VAR project. The IFAB, in consultation with FIFA and participating competition organisers, will decide if any further refinements need to be made to the protocol before live trials go ahead globally.

“Once the official experiments begin, the competition organisers will send a great deal of information to The IFAB, which will be analysed by KU Leuven university,” Elleray added.

“We’ll be wanting to look at how often video reviews are used and how often a referee confirms or changes a decision based solely on the information from the Video Assistant Referee or after an on-field review. More importantly, we will want to examine how the VAR system impacts on the behaviour of players, the behaviour of referees, the response of fans in the stadium and the response of people watching on television. So there will be a great deal of information that we’ll need before The IFAB takes a final decision on the implementation of VARs in 2018, or 2019 at the latest.”