ZURICH (Reuters) – The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system is not being used properly in all countries and while final decisions should always be taken by the on-pitch referee this has not been the case, FIFA president Gianno Infantino said on Wednesday.
“It’s important that VAR is there to support the referee. It shouldn’t be somebody else taking the decision on behalf of the referee, and this is how VAR is implemented in almost every part of the world, but not everywhere,” he told the Olympic Channel, the International Olympic Committee’s web-based TV station.
The use of VAR has been surrounded by controversy and many fans feel it goes far beyond its original remit — to review the most glaring mistakes — and that decisions are taking too long.
In the English Premier League, where VAR was introduced this season, critics have complained that the video referees — who watch the game on monitors in an enclosed room — have been taking the main decisions rather than officials on the pitch.
Unlike in most other competitions, Premier League referees have been told by the PGMOL, which is responsible for match officials in the English game, to use pitchside monitors sparingly, instead relying on what video assistants tell them.
The exception is deciding between a yellow or red card.
Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho told reporters on Tuesday that the system should be renamed VR – Video Referee – because the pitch referee is no longer making the decisions.
A survey by pollsters YouGov showed six out of 10 fans felt the system was working badly in the Premier League.
“At the beginning, (Italy) went through some turbulent times with some critics. So I wouldn’t take the current critics or criticism, from England in particular and the Premier League, in too much of a dramatic way,” said Infantino.
“There is no reason why in England it cannot be successful if it has been successful everywhere else.
“I think it’s pretty normal for something that football has been waiting for 150 years,” he added. “We can’t all pretend it’s perfect.
“But… it is certainly progress. It is certainly a step in the right direction and help for the referees, (but) it has to be used in the appropriate way.”