NEW YORK: Major League Soccer will implement the video assistant referee (VAR) system league-wide in August, making it among the first domestic leagues to use the video review system hailed by FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the Confederations Cup in June.
“The introduction of Video Review into MLS league matches is the culmination of more than three years of extensive research and testing of video review technology by MLS and the Professional Referees Organization (PRO),” MLS said in a statement on Thursday.
“In addition to Video Assistant Referee-specific camps and education sessions, preparations have included more than 100 matches – both live in-game and offline tests – at stadiums around the country that have provided invaluable training opportunities for VARs and referees.”
The statement noted that MLS and PRO partnered with the United Soccer Leagues to facilitate the first test of the system in live competition on Aust 12, 2016.
Australia’s A-League announced in April that it would become the first top-level domestic football league in the world to implement the VAR system.
Germany and Portugal are slated to test it in their upcoming seasons. Infantino has indicated the technology could be in place at the 2018 World Cup.
MLS will begin use on August 5, after their mid-season All-Star Game exhibition. It will be used for the remainder of the season, including the MLS Cup playoffs and MLS Cup title match.
Under the system outlined by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), a fifth member of a game’s officiating crew, the Video Assistant Referee, will be located at a booth in the stadium and have access to all available broadcast angles.
The VAR will check for potential clear and obvious errors or serious missed incidents in four game-changing situations: goals, penalty decisions, direct red cards, and cases of mistaken identity.
The system was tested on an international scale at the Confederations Cup in Russia, where Infantino said six game-changing decisions meant “more justice and fair play” despite criticism for some confusing calls and delays to matches.