VAR is ‘certainly not damaging’ football – Fifa president Gianni Infantino

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The video assistant referee (VAR) is “certainly not damaging” football, says Fifa president Gianni Infantino.

According to polls conducted by BBC Sport, only a third of fans across the UK said they believed VAR had made football better.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish have both called for VAR to be scrapped after recent controversial decisions.

“We have to remember VAR was introduced for the first time two years ago, not 20 years ago,” said Infantino.

“VAR is helping football, it’s certainly not damaging football.”

World governing body Fifa took full control of VAR from the sport’s lawmakers, the International Football Association Board (Ifab), in July.

After extensive trials, VAR was written into the laws of the game by Ifab in 2018 and was used at that year’s World Cup in Russia.

The Premier League introduced the technology for the 2019-20 season.

“We must not make a confusion between VAR and maybe sometimes wrong decisions which are taken because of the wrong way in which VAR is used, maybe in some places because of the lack of experience of those who are using VAR,” added Infantino.

“Let’s not forget this really is a landmark change for a referee who didn’t grow up with VAR.

“We have to take the pulse of what is happening out there, to take the criticism and analyse them.”

The BBC Sport poll of 2,100 football fans, carried out by Savanta ComRes, shows that while 30% of fans think it has improved the game, 44% of fans actually think it has made football worse.

While most fans are now given the option of seeing VAR decisions on screen – whether in the stadium or watching on TV – almost half of fans said they believe the introduction of VAR has made football less exciting.

Since Fifa took control of VAR, there has been an increase in referees using pitch-side monitors to review goal, red card and penalty decisions.

VAR continues to rule on factual decisions and advise on matters of subjectivity.

“VAR is not an obligation, it’s there to help,” said Infantino. “Those who don’t want to use it, they are not obliged to use it.

“It helped referees in the World Cup, it helps referees in many competitions and players and coaches agree.”

Source: BBC

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