Photo courtesy New York Red Bulls II
TAMPA, Fla. – The United Soccer League, in partnership with Major League Soccer, will be at the forefront of a new era in officiating as it becomes one of the first professional soccer leagues in the world to participate in The International Football Association Board (IFAB) and FIFA’s Video Assistant Referee project, The IFAB announced today. The USL will work closely with the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) and MLS to test video assistance for referees in the United States and Canada.
“We are extremely excited to be partnering with Major League Soccer, and participating in what we expect will be an innovative new project that will continue to raise the standard of officiating not only in the United States and Canada, but around the world,” USL President Jake Edwards said. “We have appreciated the effort of PRO to continue to enhance officiating standards on the field in our league, and being part of FIFA’s Video Assistant Referee program can only serve to continue that progress.”
The Hyundai A-League in Australia, Germany’s Bundesliga, Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileiro, the Super Cup Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira and the Portuguese Cup Taça de Portugal of the Portuguese Football Federation as well as different competitions under the umbrella of the Dutch football association KNVB are also scheduled to participate in the Video Assistant Referee project.
Trials are set to begin in the USL this summer in both MLS and USL venues. These tests will help develop a plan for implementation of video review in MLS matches.
Earlier this year, The IFAB approved a detailed set of protocols for the Video Assistant Referee experiments. The Video Assistant Referee will focus on four “game-changing” situations -- goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents and mistaken identity.
Goals: The role of VARs is to help the referee to determine whether there was an infraction in the immediate buildup to a goal, including fouls and offside.
Penalty Decisions: The role of the VARs is to ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made in conjunction with the award or non-award of a penalty kick.
Direct Red Card Incidents: The role of the VARs is to ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made in conjunction with the sending-off of a player.
Mistaken Identity: In situations when the referee cautions or sends off the wrong player, or is unsure which player should be sanctioned, the VARs will inform the referee so that the correct player can be disciplined.
An overview of the Video Assistant Referee project, including the process that occurs with the four situations can be found by clicking on the following link: http://quality.fifa.com/en/VAR/.
The USL, led by Vice President of Competition & Operations David Wagner, and MLS will remain in close contact with The IFAB regarding the process. MLS Executive Vice President of Competition and Player Relations Todd Durbin and MLS Vice President of Competition Jeff Agoos participated in the first workshop on Video Assistant Referees that took place in the Netherlands in May.
Additional workshops will take place in the coming months that will go into further detail about the experiments and procedures. The trials are expected to last two years with a subsequent decision by The IFAB potentially in 2018 or in 2019.