Video referee hailed as a success
Plans to use video reviews at the next World Cup finals took a giant leap forward on Thursday after the first live test of the format proved a spectacular success.
"We turned a new page in football's history book," declared FIFA president Gianni Infantino following the debut of so-called video assistant referees during the friendly between Italy and France in Bari, which France won 3-1.
Sitting in a truck outside the Stadio San Nicola, a pair of officials helped Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers make two key decisions in the match using technology that promises to revolutionise the game.
It took barely three minutes for the Hawk-Eye-developed system to be put to the test after France full-back Djibril Sidibe, also making his debut, went in studs-up on veteran Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi, whose team-mates began baying for a red card.
Kuipers said: "After reviewing the scene, my VAR informed me nine or 10 seconds later that it was sufficient to show the yellow card. The players immediately accepted my decision."
De Rossi was also at the centre of the second incident subject to review, in the 33rd minute, after his header from a corner appeared to be stopped by the hand of defender Layvin Kurzawa.
"In the second incident, my VAR advised me seven seconds later not to decide for a penalty," Kuipers said. "The players again accepted immediately. This trust by the players gave me a lot of confidence."
Both incidents were eligible for video review under strict criteria laid down earlier this year by the game's rule-making body, the International Football Association Board, which sanctioned live experiments from the start of the season.
As well as allowing reviews for potential penalty and red-card offences, the use of them is limited to moments a goal is scored and clearing up cases of mistaken identity.
Thursday's first test of the new protocols was deemed 'semi-live' as opposed to 'live' as it did not include on-site reviewing by Kuipers. That may be part of future trials.