Infantino impressed by video replays tests

FIFA president Gianni Infantino looks on as he arrives on September 2, 2016 at San Nicola stadium in Bari, for a press conference about the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), tested for the first time the day before during the friendly football match Italy vs France. Video refereeing was trialled for the first time in an international match, during the friendly between Italy and France on September 1 in Bari. An extra assistant referee on the sidelines was able to communicate with the on-pitch referee during the game. The tests have the support of the IFAB, the body who govern the rules of the game. Video tests have been ongoing in the third tier of the United States since July.  / AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI

FIFA president Gianni Infantino looks on as he arrives on September 2, 2016 at San Nicola stadium in Bari, for a press conference about the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), tested for the first time the day before during the friendly football match Italy vs France.<br />Video refereeing was trialled for the first time in an international match, during the friendly between Italy and France on September 1 in Bari. An extra assistant referee on the sidelines was able to communicate with the on-pitch referee during the game. The tests have the support of the IFAB, the body who govern the rules of the game. Video tests have been ongoing in the third tier of the United States since July.<br />/ AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI

FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Friday hailed video replays as “a new page in history” a day after the technology had its first test in France’s 3-1 friendly win over Italy in Bari.

“It was a first at this level with national teams. We’re moving forward. It was promising,” said Infantino. “On two occasions in particular we used video replays. It’s positive.”

Infantino hopes “video assistant referees” will be used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

“If it works then of course the entire footballing world would be happy to have this system to help referees during the biggest tournament in the world,” he said.

And the price tag would be no obstacle.

“A lot,” Infantino replied concerning the cost.” But it’s worth it. We need to do it and we will do it.”

“If we can help the referee make fewer mistakes while protecting the game, that’s good,” he continued.

Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers was linked by earphone with those operating the technology during the match, settling a doubt as early as four minutes following a Djibril Sidibe foul on Italy’s Daniele De Rossi.

Kuipers said: “I hesitated between yellow and red. The VAR was very useful it gave me information in nine or ten seconds. Yellow was enough … that settled it.”

“The experience was very positive. We need to help the referees without spoiling the game but in 2016 it’s not acceptable that everyone sees something important and not the referee,” said Infantino at a press conference on Friday.

“If we don’t try, we can’t know if it works,” said Infantino who contrary to his former UEFA chief Michel Platini, has never hidden that he was favourable to the technology.

“Football is conservative, sometimes even mediaeval,” said former Croatian footballer Zvonimir Boban, now deputy secretary general of FIFA.

“It will never be perfect but it will clarify many things. It is better to help the referee than crucify him.”

But Massimo Busacca, head of refereeing for FIFA, warned: “the referee must keep his instinct. He mustn’t say ‘if I have a doubt someone will decide for me’. That’s the risk.”

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