VAR is here to stay, no experimentation

Amol Gokhale
Wednesday, 13 June 2018

“We will have 34 odd cams, so we have informed teams that we will be watching you, We are not experimenting here, we are ready,” said Busacca

MOSCOW: The 2018 FIFA World Cup is going to be historic for many reasons at it might turn out to be the last World Cup with the 32 teams participating in it, but even more so the World Cup will be remembered for the debut of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology starting Thursday from the opener between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

On Tuesday, FIFA referees committee chairman Pierluigi Collina and Massimo Busacca, Head of FIFA refereeing committee, stressed on the fact that FIFA is not experimenting with the introduction of the VAR but are absolutely ready for the use of the technology.

“We will have 34 odd cams, so we have informed teams that we will be watching you, We are not experimenting here, we are ready,” said Busacca, in a press conference which lasted for around 100 minutes.

He also showed the video clips picked from the various incidences in which VAR will come into play to help referee make better decisions, as he further expressed that nobody will accept the mistakes at this level.

Commenting on the referee’s selection process, Busacca said that only the performance in training is taken into consideration and not what name he goes by or what country he comes from.

He also expressed that FIFA would be looking to protect the image of the game during the tournament, as ‘players mobbing the ref’ doesn’t make a good image.

Pierluigi Collina, known as one of the greatest referees of all time, also touched various aspects about the officiating and the subtle changes that refs would be observing during the World Cup.

The Video Assistant Referees, who will be watching the match will wear full kit that the match officials will wear as Collina expressed that the job of VAR refs is extremely stressful.

“If you see some assistant referee not raising the flag it’s not because he’s making mistakes. It’s because he’s respected the instruction to keep the flag down,” Collina, 58, said.

“If the assistant referee keeps the flag down and the play goes on and maybe a goal comes at the end, there is a chance to review the goal,” he said.

The problem of racism is one of the pressing issues in Russia but the Collina expressed that he hopes all matches are played without any incidences, but in case the incidence occurs, referees are well informed about the procedures to be carried out.

On Tuesday, FIFA and Hublot, the official timekeeper of the tournament revealed the specially designed referees watch for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Named as a Big Bang Referee 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, Hublot has made 110 pieces of the watch for the officials. Apart from that, another 2018 pieces of the watch were also made as a limited edition product, which are already sold out.

The smartwatch is loaded with technology as it takes just a swipe up to unlock the timer and double tap to add the extra time to the clock.

Apart from that, the main feature of the watch is that it takes mere 4/10th of a second to flash if the ball has crossed the line or not, meaning that it completely supplements the goal-line technology. Also, the watch starts vibrating even before it flashes goal, meaning that official would instantly know if the goal has been scored or not. 

The issue with commercial smartwatches is their battery life but the referees’ watch would last for 7 hours 13 minutes even if the battery-sapping feature of ‘vibrate on goal’ is used every five minutes.

Hublot also said that the commercial watches will get all the features of referees watch apart from vibrate on goal. But the user, using the smartphone app can get the alerts of the important events of the all the matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The alerts include- 15 minutes for the match, half-time and full-time information, goal notification as well as the information on yellow and red cards. The commercial watch is priced at 4950 euros.

It is a big honour to officiate a World Cup match and it is an even bigger honour if it is the tournament opener or the final. This year, that honour of being the referee for the opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia has gone to Argentine referee Nestor Pitana. Pitana, 42, along with Juan Pablo Bellati and Hernan Maidana will take charge of the match between Russia and Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, while Sandro Ricci from Brazil is the fourth official.

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