LONDON: Football moved closer to giving match officials video assistance on Thursday as rule-making body the International Football Association Board (IFAB) announced that it has strongly recommended beginning trials.
The matter was discussed at the IFAB’s annual business meeting in London and will now go before the organisation’s annual general meeting in Cardiff on March 4-6, when trials could be formally ratified.
“During its Annual Business Meeting (ABM), held at the Royal Garden Hotel in London on Thursday 7 January, the Board of Directors gave a strong recommendation for experiments to be given the green light at the 130th Annual General Meeting (AGM) to be held in Cardiff from 4 to 6 March,” the IFAB said in a statement.
“The protocols for such experiments were analysed today and are set to be finalised before the AGM, which would pave the way for live trials to begin as soon as the framework and timelines have been confirmed.
“A number of football associations and competition organisers have already expressed an interest in running trials.”
Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford, who chaired Thursday’s meeting, said that testing could begin next season, but would take two seasons “at the very least” to complete.
While the IFAB said that precise details about what form the trials would take had not yet been settled upon, it was eager to draw a distinction between video assistance, which it has recommended, and video replays.
“‘Replay’ suggests the game is brought to a halt and you go down the route that other sports have gone down, where you actually go to a screen and re-run it again and the referee waits before making a decision,” Stewart Regan, chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, told a press conference.
“But football is a fast-moving game and our view is that this is not a replay, this is assisting the referee.
“If the referee gets a voice in his ear that says, ‘This is a red card,’ he can choose to take that information.”
The IFAB also approved a “comprehensive” revision of the Laws of the Game, which will have its word count halved from 2016-17 onwards.
Other topics including trials of ‘sin bins’, the introduction of fourth substitutions in extra time and the ‘triple punishment’ the penalty, red card and suspension used to punish the denial of goal-scoring opportunities will also be discussed at the AGM.
The IFAB, made up of representatives from the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish Football Associations and world governing body FIFA, meets annually to discuss amendments to football’s rules.