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Major League Soccer Takes Leadership Role in Video Assistant Referee Project

 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE              
Contact: MLS Communications
Lauren Hayes – 212-450-1227; lauren.hayes@MLSsoccer.com
 
Major League Soccer Takes Leadership Role in Video Assistant Referee Project
MLS to work closely with Professional Referees Organization and United Soccer League to test video assistance for referees
 
NEW YORK (June 2, 2016) – Major League Soccer will take a leadership role in video assistance for referees as the league will be among the first professional soccer leagues in the world to participate in The International Football Association Board (IFAB) and FIFA’s Video Assistant Referee project, The IFAB announced today.  MLS will work closely with the Professional Referees Organization (PRO) and the United Soccer League (USL) to test video assistance for referees in the United States and Canada.
 
In addition to MLS, the Hyundai A-League in Australia, Germany’s Bundesliga, Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileiro, the Super Cup Supertaça Cândido Oliveira and the Portuguese Cup Taça de Portugal of the Portuguese Football Federation as well as different competitions under the umbrella of the Dutch football association KNVB are scheduled to participate in the Video Assistant Referee project.
 
The participating leagues and competitions can now begin preparations for testing. MLS, PRO and USL are making preparations for trials in USL matches hosted at MLS and USL venues this summer.  These tests will help MLS develop a plan for implementation of video review in MLS matches.
 
Today’s announcement continues MLS’ commitment to video assistance for referees, as the league first began studying the feasibility and conducted offline tests of video review in 2014. The preliminary findings of these tests during the last two years indicated that the review of a key match incident could be completed without a material disruption to the game.
 
“Major League Soccer has been a strong proponent of using technology in soccer where it enhances the game, and we are pleased to be among the first leagues in the world to participate in the Video Assistant Referee project,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.  “We believe the time has come for a mechanism that helps referees avoid clearly incorrect decisions that change the game.  We look forward to working with The IFAB and FIFA to test video assistance for our referees.”
 
Earlier this year, The IFAB approved a detailed set of protocols for the Video Assistant Referee experiments.  The Video Assistant Referee will focus on four “game-changing” situations -- goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents and mistaken identity
 
Goals: The role of VARs is to help the referee to determine whether there was an infraction in the immediate buildup to a goal, including fouls and offside.
 
Penalty Decisions: The role of the VARs is to ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made in conjunction with the award or non-award of a penalty kick.
 
Direct Red Card Incidents: The role of the VARs is to ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made in conjunction with the sending-off of a player.
 
Mistaken Identity: In situations when the referee cautions or sends off the wrong player, or is unsure which player should be sanctioned, the VARs will inform the referee so that the correct player can be disciplined.
 
An overview of the Video Assistant Referee project, including the process that occurs with the four situations can be found by clicking on the following link: http://quality.fifa.com/en/VAR/.
 
MLS remains in close contact with The IFAB regarding the process.  MLS Executive Vice President Competition and Player Relations Todd Durbin and MLS Vice President Competition Jeff Agoos participated in the first workshop on Video Assistant Referees that took place in the Netherlands in May. 
  
Additional workshops will take place in the coming months that will go into further detail about the experiments and procedures. The trials are expected to last two years with a subsequent decision by The IFAB potentially in 2018 or in 2019.