Video referees will be tested in football no later than the 2017-18 season, it has been announced.
The historic decision was made at a meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in the Welsh capital Cardiff today.
Many sports have utilised the use of video to make rulings on contentious decisions but football, until now, has held out.
There are fears that the flow of the game will become disrupted but, in a bid to prevent high-profile refereeing mistakes, video trials will now be held for a minimum of two years to access the advantages and disadvantages of the technology.
IFAB, which makes rulings on the laws of football, say they do not expect to achieve 100 per accuracy for every single decision, with video only used for “game-changing” moments.
This would include goals, penalty decisions, red cards and cases of mistaken identity.
During the trials, a video assistant referee will have access to replays during the match and will either review an incident after a request by the referee or communicate with the official proactively about something they have spotted.
The experiments will be managed and overseen by IFAB with the support of world governing body FIFA.
A university will be selected to conduct a research study, which will focus not only on refereeing but also on the impact on the game itself.
IFAB will now meet with interested competition organisers and FIFA in the coming weeks in order to define a schedule for the next two years.
This will include a pre-testing phase with experiments carried out in a controlled “non-live” environment.
There will also be referee training, workshops and on-site preparation for experiments which will be implemented in two testing phases across a number of competitions and leagues.
Newly elected FIFA President Gianni Infantino was present in Cardiff for the meeting.
He said: “We have taken really a historic decision for football.
“We cannot close our eyes to the future but it doesn’t mean to say it will work.
“The flow of the game is crucial.
“We cannot put that in danger.
“That is why we have to be open to test.”
A high-profile error which video technology would in theory have corrected happened during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, during England’s second round clash with Germany.
With Germany 2-1 in front, a strike by England’s Frank Lampard clearly bounced over the line but the officials failed to award a goal.
Germany went on to win the match 4-1.
Other key decisions were made at the meeting, with IFAB describing the changes as the “most comprehensive revision of the laws” ever undertaken in its 130-year history.
So-called “triple punishment” – when players who deny a goal scoring opportunity in the box are punished by a red card, penalty and suspension – will be altered with offenders remaining on the pitch if they have attempted to make a legitimate tackle.
The use of a fourth substitution in extra time will also be trialed, while the ball will be able to move in any direction from kick-off, and not just forwards.
IFAB’s membership includes the Football Associations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as FIFA.
Any amendment to the Laws of the Game requires a majority of six out of eight votes.
The four British associations have one vote each and FIFA, representing the other 205 national associations, has four votes.
- By Dan Palmer
- Republished with permission insidethegames.biz