Date: 22nd January 2018 at 9:53pm
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The International Football Association Board have claimed that 98.9% of Video Assistant Referee decisions are correct during its two year worldwide trial.

A report released by the game’s lawmakers IFAB – Click Here – yesterday gave an update on the trials taking place at both international level and selected league and cup competitions around the globe, testing out how the VAR system can correct errors and lead to fairer results in match, and their claim of 98.9% accuracy is pretty impressive.

With VAR coming in from some cup ties in England, and with certain teething problems being acknowledged as people look to improve the system and fans’ understanding of the system during a game.

The report states that VAR, across the last two years since trials began, has been used in 804 situations in competitive matches and that does span 20 competitions.

IFAB stated that with an increase in the accuracy of decisions that can be reviewed moving into a range of 93 to 98.9% clearly the results so far were ‘positive and encouraging’.

VAR was first trialled at the Club World Cup in December 2016 and the 2017 Confederations Cup before then going into domestic action in Germany and Italy, and of course the English game has seen it’s introduction this month as well.

IFAB will meet again at their annual meeting in Zurich on March 3 to decide whether or not the technology will be introduced on a permanent basis, but you would think with those success % it’s just a matter of time before it gets the rubber stamp and then decisions will have to be made at ‘which levels of the game’ it becomes permanent for, given the financial outlay required to put in the cameras and the software at each ground.

Trials in England so far have been restricted to Premier League clubs only and whilst the Championship is a logical inclusion, my guess is IFAB will set a divisional, along with potentially an attendance cap based on the size of stadium’s to decide where the technology goes.

With Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho seeing the first VAR goal awarded in their FA Cup victory over Fleetwood Town – and the decision only taking 67 seconds after originally being ruled offside – others will point to the system not being used to overturn the caution shown to Willian and not to award Chelsea a penalty in their FA Cup replay against Norwich to show there are still issues.

IFAB acknowledge that themselves in the report when it comes to offsides in particular, claiming it is ‘one of the more difficult tasks’.

‘The exact pitch dimensions, including any physical camber on the field as well as distortions of the camera lenses, make it very difficult for a virtual line to be drawn that accurately represents a true straight line as it would be physically drawn across the field.’

Although that seems a soft distinction given highlights shows do it on a weekly basis and far more often than not get it right.

The report also recommends yellow cards for players who give the ‘television signal’ to referees and restates that players and coaches will not be allowed to challenge a referee’s decision.

The reports key findings were:

In 804 matches there were 3,947 checks for reviewable incidents.
56.9% of checks were for penalty incidents and goals.
There was an average of fewer than five checks per match.
The median check time of the VAR is 20 seconds.
The median duration of a review is 60 seconds.
68.8% of matches had no review.
One decision in three matches is a ‘clear and obvious error’.
However a ‘clear and obvious error’ was not corrected in 1 in 20 games.
In 8% of matches the VAR had a decisive impact on the outcome of the game.
24% of all matches were positively affected by the involvement of VAR (changing an initial incorrect decision by the referee).
The average time’lost’ due to the VAR represents less than 1% of overall playing time.