VAR on track for World Cup after IFAB approves technology

VAR is likely to be used at the 2018 World Cup after it won official approval from the International Football Association Board.

The IFAB, football's rule-making body, gave unanimous backing to the technology at its annual general meeting in Zurich on Saturday.

It means there will almost certainly be video assistant referees used at this year's showpiece tournament in Russia, with a final decision expected to be made at the next FIFA Council meeting on March 16 in Bogota.

"The International Football Association Board (The IFAB) unanimously approved the use of video assistant referees (VARs) at its 132nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) that took place at FIFA's headquarters in Zurich," read an IFAB statement.

"This landmark meeting, chaired by FIFA president Gianni Infantino, represents a new era for football with video assistance for referees helping to increase integrity and fairness in the game.

"Prior to taking its decision, the members of the IFAB (the football associations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as FIFA, representing all other national football associations) were presented with the results of the independent analysis of the use of VARs conducted by Belgian university KU Leuven since the beginning of the VAR experiment in March 2016."

VAR was used at least year's Confederations Cup and has been trialled in the FA Cup and EFL Cup in English football, the Bundesliga in Germany and Italy's Serie A.

The trials have already highlighted the impact of the system on key decisions, which include goals, penalties, straight red cards and cases of mistaken identity, although the time taken for referrals during matches and confusion for coaches and fans watching has led to significant criticism.

FIFA president Infantino told a news conference: "At the end of the day, the results of all these experiments and studies were conclusive. We came to the conclusion that VAR is good for football, good for refereeing, it brings more fairness to the game."

This week, LaLiga confirmed it would introduce the technology from next season, but UEFA has said it will not be rolled out in the Champions League.

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde said on Saturday: "Yes, I think it's a logical decision [for LaLiga]. There will still be controversy but I think the benefits outweigh the negatives."

Infantino is eager for VAR to be used at the World Cup, but predecessor Sepp Blatter is against it.

Tweeting on Thursday, the 81-year-old, who is serving a six-year ban from football for approving a payment to former UEFA chief Michel Platini in 2011, said: "A personal appeal to IFAB the Guardians of the Laws of the Game: FIFA WC cannot be used as experiment for such a fundamental change."

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