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Video-assisted ref could be delayed until after 2018 World Cup

Lausanne (AFP) – A trial period for the video assistant referee (VAR) system could be extended beyond next year’s World Cup, football’s lawmakers said Thursday, despite FIFA’s vow to include them in Russia 2018.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has said “nothing is standing in the way” of the technology for next summer’s competition, but a spokesman for International Football Association Board (IFAB) told AFP the ongoing experiment could be “prolonged”.

“The intention is to take the best decision going forward, not a quick one,” said the spokesman for the independent body in charge of football’s rules and regulations.

“And if the results from all leagues and competitions using VARs at the moment were not satisfactory, the experiment could be prolonged by another period.”

VAR — which is used to review goals, red cards, penalties and cases of mistaken identity — has been tested in countries including Australia, Brazil, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

The system is designed to help the referee on the pitch, and can stop the action to review controversial decisions. 

However, the results of the tests have not been unanimous. In Italy, for example, VAR has not drawn a line under talking points, but added to the controversy.

“It will become like baseball in the United States, we stay 10 hours at the stadium eating peanuts,” joked Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri on Sunday.

The IFAB spokesman said that following the two-year experiment, they believe they “will have enough evidence to take this decision”.

“IFAB and FIFA, together, we will discuss the results later this year thoroughly with the intention to take the best decision going forward,” he said. 

“So far, the experience shows that the project is going in the right and positive direction.”

He added the decision on whether VAR will be used in Russia 2018 will be made “solely by FIFA, not by IFAB, on the condition that VAR is approved by IFAB at its general meeting in March, or that the experiment continues for a new period”. 

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