Sydney (AFP) – Australia’s A-League will become the first top-level domestic football league in the world to implement the video assistant referee system, officials said on Monday.
After six months of training and lower-tier live trials, Football Federation Australia’s director of referees Ben Wilson said he was confident most teething issues had been resolved.
“We’ve come across a couple around the expectations of what a clear error is, also the challenge on the time it takes to make decisions, and the way those decisions are communicated to the broadcaster and the fans,” Wilson said.
“Those three things we’ve worked through and I’m happy we’ve got solutions to all of them.”
The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will be used for the first time when Melbourne City host Adelaide United in Melbourne on Friday.
The VAR experiment was used in last week’s international friendly between France and Spain in Paris and earned mixed reviews, praised by most for being more fair but condemned by some for killing the spectacle.
France lost 2-0 in a game in which Spain benefited twice from crucial VAR decisions.
A goal against the Spanish was disallowed after it was ruled offside in consultation with the video and a Spain goal disallowed by the referee for offside was overturned on review.
Wilson said most reviews in the A-League would be made and implemented within 30 to 40 seconds, but he stressed accuracy and not time was the priority.
“The main objective is to get the decision right, that’s the first priority,” Wilson said.
“If that takes a little bit longer then that’s okay.”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said last month there was a realistic chance video assistant referees would be used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Use of technology to assist referees — favoured by Infantino — was first introduced in the 2012 Club World Cup to determine whether the ball had crossed the goal-line in scoring situations.
Football has been slow to embrace video technology in comparison with sports such as cricket and American football.