Video assistance could be set to be introduced in football after the International Football Association Board (The IFAB) indicated it could give permission for experimentation with the technology for match officials.
Its use was discussed during The IFAB’s Annual Business Meeting (ABM) held at the Royal Garden Hotel in London on Thursday 7 January, where the Board of Directors gave a strong recommendation that experiments could be given the green light at the 130th Annual General Meeting (AGM) to be held in Cardiff from 4 to 6 March.
A number of football associations and competition organisers have already expressed an interest in running trials but there are worries in some sections that its use could slow the game down.
However, former FIFA referee, Keith Hackett, argues that using video referees in football can be a seamless process that keeps the game flowing freely.
“You either use the technology or you don’t. No half measures for me,” Hackett said in his column on You-are-the-ref.com
“Yes, people are worried about the game being stopped and also asking when exactly you stop it and in what circumstances. I understand all that and some thought is needed.
“But I feel many people inside and outside the game are failing to grasp that the conversation with the guy in front of the monitors can be ongoing. In that sense, it is no different to dialogue with assistant referees and the fourth official.
“He would be just another member of a team who are all in communication with each other – that is the bottom line.
“The fact that he is off the field looking at a bank of monitors is blinkering some people to the reality that he is actually just another voice on a communication kit.
“We don’t need to know the exact process by which a decision is arrived at. The main thing is that it’s the right one.”
The protocols for the experiments were also analysed and are set to be finalised before the AGM, which would pave the way for live experiments to begin as soon as the framework and timelines have been confirmed.
Critical to the development of the protocols was the feedback of the Football Advisory Panel and the Technical Advisory Panel, which were set up in 2014 to support The IFAB with greater expertise before decisions are taken in order to improve the way in which the global football community helps to shape the Laws of the Game.
IFAB members also received an update on the ongoing process to introduce a Quality Programme for electronic performance and tracking systems.
The consultation process with key stakeholders such as leagues, clubs, national teams, FIFPro as well as industry representatives is continuing, with the first draft of a global standard set to be presented to The IFAB later this year.
This will include minimum safety requirements for players, provisions around data protection, as well as a high quality standard for professional football focusing on performance requirements of the systems.
Other topics on the agenda included “triple punishment”, the use of “sin bins” and “Law 3 – The Number of Players”, which are all set to be discussed further at the AGM.