FIFA President Backs VAR, Expansion Of World Cup Teams

VARFIFA president Gianni Infantino has said he looks forward to see Video Assistant Referees (VAR) used at the 2018 World Cup.

The VAR has been used in Italy’s two international friendlies, against France in September and Germany on Tuesday.

Infantino is hoping the testing and evaluation stage will soon lead to its implementation. He told La Gazzetta dello Sport he is optimistic about the technology.

“We’re working on it and I believe that there will be leagues using it already from next season. [Italian FA president Carlo] Tavecchio has been excellent about it in Italy, compliments to him.”

Apart from the FIFA president, the technology has been supported by several stakeholders. President of the Italian Referees’ Association (AIA) Marcello Nicchi believes VAR could be introduced into Serie A next season.

However, the system has its detractors. Speculations have risen after it was used to rule out a goal scored by Kevin Volland on Tuesday night the San Siro. The goal was ruled out for an offside which even replays were unable to resolve conclusively.

The assistant referees viewing that incident decided within five seconds that the Bayer Leverkusen forward was offside but there were many doubts. However, Infantino remained adamant.

“Replays, replays, come on — did you see what happened with Volland? Anybody who was worried we would be left with nothing to dispute at the bar has been served. There is always going to be something to talk about.”

“Seriously, I was sceptical about it but I thought ‘let’s try it’ and now I don’t see anything negative about it. Replays don’t resolve everything because a lot of situations are open to interpretation, but it does provide the security that there will not be any serious mistakes and errors which could compromise a game.

“The flow of the game doesn’t suffer, decisions are made within three seconds. Now we just need to find a way to communicate to the fans that the decision has been taken by viewing replays.”

Move To Expand World Cup Teams

Meanwhile, Infantino is also going to push ahead with his plans to expand the World Cup to 48 nations. He says it is “crucial” for the development of the game.

“Football’s future depends on this and I hope the advisory panel follows me. Just think, there would be 16 nations automatically qualified and the other 32 would go into a playoff. This would take place a week before the start, in the same location.”

“That would mean 48 nations would still be interested in the tournament in June and their hopes would not end in November already. The World Cup is a social event which changes nations and puts smiles on people’s faces. It would be the biggest ever impulse to the game’s development.”

A revamp of the FIFA Club World Cup, which is currently played in December, is also on Infantino’s agenda.

“It’s a complicated formula as it is now, played in a difficult period without much enthusiasm for it. In summer, from June 10-30, we could have the 32 best clubs in the world. It will still come down to the players’ health as they will need time to rest, but we have [Zvonimir] Boban and [Marco] Van Basten working on a solution.”

They are not the only former stars Infantino would like working on such projects either.

“I hope so. From [Diego] Maradona to Luis Figo, I hope these people give clubs the best guarantees. It would be a think tank on crucial issues. From now on, business comes after football because if you put business first, you destroy football.”

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