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VAR: What you need to know

Referees are seen in the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) Box
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  • Discover all the key info need to understand Video Assistant Referee
  • VAR approved for use in March 2018
  • Decision laid path for it featuring at its first senior FIFA World Cup

Following the unanimous decision from the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in March 2018, the use of video assistant referee (VAR) was approved after two years of testing, seeing it cleared to feature at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

After huge amounts of analysis, offline and online test matches, implementation in competitions around the world and use at four FIFA tournaments – FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017, FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017 and FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016 and UAE 2017 – members were satisfied it would be a positive addition to the game.

What are they looking for?
So, how will VAR be assisting referees when they are involved? They will be watching out for clear errors in these four game-changing parts of a match:

1 Goals
They will determine whether there was an infringement that means a goal should not be awarded.

2 Penalty decisions
Their role is to ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made in conjunction with the award or non-award of a penalty kick.

3 Red card incidents
VARs will make sure no clear error has been made in conjunction with sending off or not sending off a player.

4 Mistaken identity
When a referee cautions or sends off the wrong player, or is unsure which player should be sanctioned, VARs are on hand to inform them.

What’s the procedure?
VARs are consistently assessing crucial decisions int he background but should they need to be in contact with the referee, here is the process that follows:

1 Incident occurs
The referee informs the VARs, or the VARs recommend to the referee that a decision/incident should be reviewed.

2 Review and advice by VARs
The video footage is reviewed by the VARs, who advise the referee via headset what the video shows.

3 Decision or action is taken
The referee decides to review the video footage on the side of the field of play, or the referee accepts the information from the VARs, and takes the appropriate action.


How VAR will work at Russia 2018

Frequently asked questions

Who makes the final decisions?
Final decisions always remain with the referee. VARs are purely there to assist, providing guidance and information to help avoid clear errors.

Does having VARs make a difference?
An independent study has found VARs to help boost correct decision making from 93 per cent up to 98.8 per cent*.

Will this not cause long breaks in play?
With on-field reviews taking place only on average once in every three games, less than a minute of playing time is lost through using VARs, compared to almost nine minutes relating to free-kicks*.

*Study conducted by Belgian university KU Leuven

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