Video assistant referees (VARs) will be used at the World Cup for the first time when the finals get underway in Russia in June, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Friday night.
The uses of the VAR system was approved earlier this month by the rule-making body IFAB, despite controversy in some of the competitions where it has been trialled over the time taken to make decisions and lack of information for spectators.
“We are going to have our first World Cup with video assisted refereeing,” Infantino told reporters after a meeting of the FIFA Council. “This has been adopted and approved and we are extremely happy with that decision.”
“It’s an essential decision, very important and historical decision.”
The system that allows off-pitch referees to re-examine a decision or an incident referred to them by the match official has been used in Germany’s Bundesliga and Italy’s Serie A this season and trialled in some English FA and League Cup games.
Infantino said that VAR had been shown to reduce the number of refereeing mistakes in matches where it had been used.
He said the tests had “provided us with guarantees and concrete facts that VAR definitely helps referees and it will help us have a fairer and more transparent sport.
“It’s not possible that, in 2018, everyone in the stadium and their living room knows if a referee has made a big mistake or not, and the only one who doesn’t know is the referee.”
Infantino had repeatedly promised that VAR would be used at the June 14-July 15 World Cup and has made it one of his priorities since being elected FIFA chief in February 2016.