Brazil will make unprecedented use of a Video Referee (VAR) in match between the Sport and Salgueiro, the first leg of the Final of the 2017 Pernambuco State Championship.  The match will be held at 16:00 this Sunday (7), at the Ilha do Retiro, Recife (PE).

It will be a historic date for the world’s most popular sport. Following a year of working on this project, the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (CBF) and the Federação Pernambucana de Futebol (FPF) will put the video referee in practice.  This time, the use will be on-line, or say with open communication between the video referee (VAR), in the cabin, and the main referee, on the field.  Last year, two off-line tests, without communication between cabin and field, were made, in the Finals of the Campeonato Carioca, between the teams of Vasco and Botafogo. This season, the tests were held in youth categories matches at the Granja Comary, Teresópolis (RJ).

The innovative project is Brazilian and was created with the support of the CBF Referee Commission and the National School of Football Refereeing (ENAF – Escola Nacional de Arbitragem de Futebol). The video referee does not act all the doubts that may arise on the field.  Information is passed to the referee in four situations:

– Goal / no goal decisions
– Penalty / no penalty decisions
– Direct red cards (not second yellow cards)
– Mistaken identity

Only the main moves

The Sport x Salgueiro match is played as part of the overall experiments with VARs approved by The IFAB in 2016. The philosophy underlying the experiments is not to achieve 100% accuracy for all decisions, as this would destroy the essential flow and emotions of football. The aim is to achieve ‘minimum interference, maximum benefit’, with the technology only being used for the defined match-changing situations and any serious missed incidents. In these cases, the question a VAR will consider is not ‘was the decision of the referee correct?’ but ‘was the decision clearly wrong?’

– We are very pleased with the progress made in Brazil over the last 12 months and we  have accompanied CBF and the FPF during all relevant preparations in order for this first match  with the VAR to be a success – says Lukas Brud, Secretary of The IFAB.

The VAR system will be governed by the experiment protocol approved by The IFAB. The entity is orienting the experiments with VAR in local competitions of 13 countries: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Qatar, Korea Republic, Turkey and the USA. FIFA is also testing this technology this year for use during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.

The Belgian university KU Leuven is producing a database to analyse the VAR experiments.  The IFAB hopes to make a final decision on whether VARs can be used in football during their next Annual General Meeting in the first quarter of 2018.

Further information about VARs is available here. An FAQ document is available here.