A video assistant referee (VAR) system is a support tool for officials in the game of football. It was introduced in the 2018/2019 edition of the Laws of the Game. It was successfully utilized at the 2018 FIFA World Cup™. Since then, this technology has been implemented in over 100 competitions worldwide.
How does Video Assistant Referee (VAR) work?
The VAR team assists the referee in making decisions in four key match-changing situations:
- Goals and offenses leading up to a goal.
- Penalty decisions including offenses leading up to a penalty decision.
- Direct red-card incidents (not second yellow card/caution)
- Mistaken identity
Throughout a match, the video assistant referee team constantly monitors for clear errors related to these situations. They only communicate with the referee in cases of clear mistakes or serious missed incidents.
The video assistant referee team operates from a centralised video operation room (VOR). A fibre-optic network provides all host broadcaster camera feeds from the stadiums to the VOR. The on-field referee at each stadium communicates with the VAR team via a sophisticated fibre-linked radio system.
Camera set-up For video assistant referee (VAR)
The VAR team has access to 42 broadcast cameras. It contains 8 (eight) super slow-motion cameras and 4 (four) ultra slow-motion cameras. The slow-motion replays are primarily used for factual situations. It identifies the point of contact in a physical offense or determines the position of an offense. Normal-speed replays, on the other hand, are used for subjective judgments. Assessing the intensity of an offense or determining whether a handball should be penalized. Additionally, the VAR team has access to camera feeds used by semi-automated offside technology.
It is important to note that the VAR team is granted access to all FIFA host broadcaster camera feeds. Cameras installed by Media Rights Licensees (MRLs), however, are not available to the VAR team. These cameras typically focus on specific teams and are not part of the official host broadcaster’s camera plan.
FWC22 Camera Plan
The VAR team consists of the video assistant referee (VAR) and three assistant video assistant referees (AVAR1, AVAR2, and AVAR3). All members of the video assistant referee team are highly experienced FIFA video match officials.
- The VAR closely observes the main camera on the upper monitor and reviews incidents on the quad-split monitor. Their responsibilities include leading the VAR team and communicating with the on-field referee.
- AVAR1 concentrates on the main camera and provides live play updates to the VAR during incident reviews.
- AVAR2, with a background as an assistant referee, checks potential offside situations at the offside station using semi-automated offside technology. This helps expedite the VAR check and review process.
- AVAR3 focuses on the TV program feed, assists the VAR in evaluating incidents, and ensures effective communication between the VAR and AVAR2 is located at the offside station.
Referee Review Area: video assistant referee (VAR)
The referee review area (RRA) is a designated space near the technical areas that contains a screen for the referee to review incidents. It is situated pitchside to allow easy access for the referee during match play.
Video Assistant Referee (VAR) Information for Fans
FIFA has developed a VAR information system for broadcasters, commentators, and infotainment. This is to ensure all fans, inside the stadium or on TV or mobile devices, are well-informed during the review process. A FIFA staff member, located in the video operation room, uses a networked touch tablet to provide broadcasters, commentators, and infotainment personnel with updates on the different steps of the review process. This includes the reason for the review and its outcome.
The tablet operator has access to the camera angles being observed by the VAR. This VAR information system also automatically generates VAR-specific graphic templates for TV broadcasts and the giant screen in the stadium.
How VAR System was tested?
The VAR system, provided by Hawk-Eye Innovations Limited, was successfully tested by the independent test institute RISE AB by the existing global standard of the FIFA Quality Programme. Before the start of the tournament, the VAR set-up for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar underwent testing during validation matches held in each competition stadium.
With the implementation of VAR technology, football matches have become more fair and accurate in crucial decision-making situations. This technology, combined with the expertise of the VAR team, contributes to a better and more transparent sport for both players and fans.