Q&A: The future of VAR in soccer will be decided on Saturday. Here’s all you need to know

Q&A: The future of VAR in soccer will be decided on Saturday. Here’s all you need to know

The International Football Association Board meets on Saturday to decide whether to approve the use of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system throughout the game, including possibly at this summer's World Cup.

VAR came in for more criticism this week when it led to numerous delays during Tottenham's FA Cup replay win over Rochdale, including denying Spurs winger Erik Lamela an early goal because of what was judged to be a foul by Fernando Llorente in the build-up.

Here, we look at the key issues regarding VAR.

What decisions can it be used for?

The referee can opt to use VAR on decisions concerning the awarding of goals, penalty kicks, offsides, the issuing of straight red cards and cases of mistaken identity. The referee can request assistance with these decisions or it can be recommended by the video officials, but the referee on the pitch has the final say after being talked through what the footage shows.

Where has it been used?

It has been in use all season in Serie A and the Bundesliga, among 15 leagues worldwide to test the technology, while it has been trialled in the Carabao Cup and FA Cup in recent months. The system has come under the spotlight on a handful of occasions in this country. Chelsea forward Willian thought he had been fouled for a penalty against Norwich in January but was booked for diving after referee Graham Scott opted not to refer the decision. Manchester United's Juan Mata then saw a goal disallowed at Huddersfield for the narrowest of offsides after referee Kevin Friend consulted video review assistant Neil Swarbrick, while Wednesday's game at Wembley, refereed by Paul Tierney, was littered with delays and controversies arising from VAR.

Will it be used at the World Cup this summer?

FIFA president Gianni Infantino is certainly keen for that to happen. The game's law-making body, the IFAB, will make a final ruling when it gathers for its annual general meeting on Saturday.

Have there been any teething problems?

As well as the controversies arising at Stamford Bridge, the John Smith's Stadium and, more recently, Wembley, there have been concerns over the delays caused by VAR referrals. Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri complained that the game was "turning into baseball". There was also an embarrassing incident in MLS in September when the decision to send off New England Revolution midfielder Xavier Kouassi using VAR was overturned on appeal.

How regularly has it been used?

ESPN reported there were 309 incidents reviewed using VAR in Serie A up to October 30. Of those, 288 backed the referee's initial call and 21 decisions were overturned. In British football, uses of VAR have been relatively rare given it has only been available for certain cup fixtures, with the Tottenham-Rochdale clash the game most affected by referrals to the technology.

Can players, managers or others call for VAR to be used?

Players risk a booking if they attempt to influence any official to use VAR and managers or other non-playing club staff risk being sent to the stand if they do the same, or encroach on the area where the referee is reviewing footage.

Press Association & Digital Desk

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