A big change could be coming to the world of international soccer. The head of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, says he wants to introduce video replays at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. According to a report from Sky News, the decision has to be confirmed by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) which governs the rules of the game, but Infantino is keen to see the technology brought on board.
"In 2017, when everyone in the stadium or at home can see within seconds if the referee made a mistake, we can't have a situation where the only one who can't see it is the referee,” said Infantino in Chile. He added that he has had “nothing but positive feedback” about instant replay technology, which was used by FIFA for the first time at the Club World Cup last December. (Unlike the World Cup, which sees national teams compete, the Club World Cup involves country’s club teams.)
Soccer’s governing institutions — and some fans — have long been hostile to the use of video replay. The criticisms are that it slows up games, and will impinge upon the authority of the referee. Another possible objection (expressed less frequently) is that video replays will take away from the drama of soccer, which often stems from controversial calls about goals, red cards, and penalties.
On the other hand, there have been a number of notable World Cup incidents where incorrect, game-changing calls were by human referees. In the 2010 competition, for example, a “goal” by England’s Frank Lampard was disallowed in a game against Germany. The ball clearly crossed the goal-line, as fans in the stadium saw, but the linesman admitted he missed it because of the speed of the shot.
Video replays have long been used in American football, coming to professional stadiums in 2007 and college games in 2010. The technology is also being tested at the league level by FIFA in number of countries, including by Major League Soccer in the US and the Bundesliga in Germany. It’s yet to become standard in international games, though. A successful outing at 2018’s World Cup would certainly speed up the process.