Fifa Council rubber-stamp use of VAR at 2018 World Cup

Fifa president Gianni Infantino confirmed at a Fifa Council meeting that video assistant referees will be in use in Russia this summer

epa06608762 President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, participates in a press conference in Bogota, Colombia, 16 March 2018. FIFA approved the use of VAR system (video arbitration system) at the 2018 World Cup in Russia during the sixth session of the FIFA Council  meeting.  EPA/MAURICIO DUENAS CASTANEDA

The use of video assistant referees (VAR) at this summer's World Cup has been rubber-stamped by the Fifa Council.

In what was a formality after the International Football Association Board (Ifab) approved its use at a meeting earlier this month, Fifa president Gianni Infantino backed VAR to be a success in Russia.

"We need to live with the times," Infantino said as he chaired a Fifa Council meeting in Colombia. "We are going to have our first World Cup with VAR. It has been approved and we are extremely happy with that decision.

"It's an essential, important and historic decision, based on the meeting of Ifab two weeks back. It's a decision based on trials, carried out in over a thousand matches that provided us with guarantees and facts that VAR helps referees."

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The VAR system has been trialled worldwide, but its use in England during FA Cup games has been met with great cynicism.

Fans, managers and pundits have been unable to agree on the outcome even after video review, while those inside the stadium have complained of being in the dark while decisions are made.

"We have been working at this for two years with a group of referees and experts," Infantino said. "We have looked at the technology to be ready for the World Cup."

Infantino said no one on the Fifa Council was against the decision, and added: "We didn't take it lightly. We studied it thoroughly for two years.

"I was sceptical at the beginning but without trying things you can't know what they are worth. That's why we carried out trials in those 1,000 matches. There are facts: referees make one important mistake one in every three, with VAR it is every 19. These are facts and figures.

"The success rate of referees today without VAR is 93 per cent, which is already excellent. With VAR they reach 99 per cent. We need to leave one per cent, we cannot provide 100."

Infantino added that time-wastage had been discussed "passionately" but said: "It's not possible that in 2018 everyone in their living room knows a few seconds after the play whether a referee has made a mistake and the referee doesn't."

Infantino also used the meeting to confirm the two current bidders for the 2026 World Cup as Morocco and a joint one from the United States, Canada and Mexico.

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