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Infantino targets video refs for 2018 World Cup

London (AFP) – FIFA president Gianni Infantino believes there is a realistic chance video assistant referees will be used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Video assistance was introduced to support referees with “game-changing” decisions for the first time in a FIFA competition at the Club World Cup in Japan in December.

The four areas covered by the VAR official were goals, penalties, red cards and cases of mistaken identity and, although there was controversy over the delayed award of a penalty during the tournament, Infantino would like to see the technology fine-tuned in time for next year’s World Cup.

Speaking at a press conference following a meeting of the International Football Association Board at Wembley on Friday, he said: “That is our aim. I’m very confident. The signs are encouraging. 

“The little hiccups we have seen are to do with the training of the referees, but they will be able to take decisions much faster when they use it more often.

“It is realistic for us (to use it at the World Cup) because of the experience we had in the Club World Cup last December in Japan. 

“We have seen for the referee it is not a big change and they learnt very quickly. 

“We will use it for sure in the Confederations Cup, the Under-20 World Cup and the Club World Cup. VAR is positive because it will allow the right decision to be taken in a game-changing circumstance.”

FIFA will test the technology with all the candidates to be World Cup referees before IFAB, football’s global ruling making body, decide whether to green light its use at the World Cup at a meeting in March.

– Encouraging –

English Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn supports the move and said he hopes to introduce VAR technology for the third round of next season’s FA Cup.

“I feel very confident given the preparation underway now. I would expect to see video assistant referees from the third round of the FA Cup next season,” he told reporters.

“The evidence of the testing is really encouraging. 

“At the professional level in England, there’s no ‘if’. It’s not an ‘if’ it’s a ‘when’.”

The IFAB meeting produced a plan to allow countries to introduce extra substitutes, sin bins for yellow card offences, and varying match durations.

However, those ideas will only be used for disability, grassroots and youth football and do not apply in the top divisions or senior internationals.

IFAB also plan to consider a “potentially fairer system for kicks from the penalty mark”.

Meanwhile, Glenn revealed the FA is collaborating with the Professional Footballers’ Association to conduct a wide-ranging study into the damage caused by concussions and heading a football.

Children aged 10 and under have been banned from heading in the United States amid growing fears that the practice increases the chances of suffering dementia.

“We are taking it seriously. The research we are doing with the PFA is to see if dementia is greater in professional football than in the general population. It will be a six-figure study conducted by an independent university,” Glenn said.

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