- Pre-Russia 2017 media conference with Marco van Basten, Massimo Busacca
- Changes to the Laws of the Game and VARs were on the agenda
- Launch of the FIFA-IFAB ‘play fair!’ initiative marked
The introduction of new Laws of the Game and the use and implementation of 'Video Assistant Referees' (VARs) were discussed by Marco van Basten and Massimo Busacca at a media conference in Russia today.
The event took place in the Saint Petersburg Stadium two days ahead of the impressive arena hosting the opening match of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup between hosts Russia and New Zealand.
Van Basten and Busacca, FIFA's Chief Technical Development Officer and Head of Refereeing respectively, also spoke about FIFA's involvement in The IFAB's ‘play fair!’ initiative.
"The 'play fair!' iniative is a plan for football," said Van Basten. "This strategy aims to promote fairness and integrity, ensure the game is accessible to everyone and optimise the use of technology. Since its approval, FIFA and The IFAB have elaborated on the first stage of discussions and trials, which focus on improving player behaviour and increasing respect, increasing playing time and increasing fairness and keeping the game attractive."
Van Basten went on to outline in detail what measures will be taken towards achieving these aims. The mobbing, or surrounding, of match officials is something that FIFA - and football - wants to eliminate from the game, and the first steps in that direction will be taken during the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Furthermore, referees have been instructed to be more accurate in adding time for major delays such as injuries and substitutions, and to prevent more time-wasting.
Busacca spoke at length on the continued trialling of Video Assistant Referees (VARs), with implementation for next year's FIFA World Cup™ planned following another positive experiment at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea 2017. Illuminating videos were shown to the assembled media to outline how the VAR' involvement works in practice, with FIFA's Head of Refereeing insistent that tangible benefits are already evident.
"We have been very happy with the results," he said. "Having now gone through two tournaments in which VARs were involved, I think we can already see that they really can help. Our objective is to eliminate clear mistakes - the mistakes that people, years later, still remember. Football asked for this, and we are trying to understand the ways technology can help us with some difficult decisions.
"VAR is a new tool and, like all new tools, it takes time to learn and to implement. But 12 decisions were changed at the U-20 World Cup due to VAR input, and some - had they not been changed - could have changed the competition, eliminating one team rather than another. At FIFA, we want fair play and correct decisions."