Moscow, Russian Federation (AFP) — FIFA President Gianni Infantino said yesterday that testing is to begin on video technology that could be ready to use at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Speaking during a visit to Moscow to check on preparations for the 2018 football showpiece, Infantino also said the hard graft “starts now” in the crisis-hit country.
But after the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which governs the rules of the game, approved in March the testing of technology to help match officials, Infantino said it could be ready to use at the next World Cup.
“This test video will start now and will take two years. This means that by March 2018 we will see if it works or not,” he said.
“I really hope that the World Cup in Russia will be the first World Cup where video refereeing is used to make refereeing maybe better.”
The trials will allow referees to call on video assistance to help determine four categories of game-changing moments — goals scored, red cards, penalties and mistaken identity.
In the experiments, a video assistant referee will have access to video replays during matches and will either review an incident on request or communicate with the referee proactively about an incident that may have been missed by the officials on the field of play.
In March, IFAB had agreed to carry out experiments over a two-year period starting no later than the 2017/18 season, although that has now been brought forward, meaning, a final decision on whether to adopt the technology permanently could be taken before the 2018 World Cup.
Turning his attention to the World Cup preparations, Infantino told journalists: “The work is on track and the commitment is there to get everything done in accordance with the time schedule.
“If I compliment Russia, it doesn't mean that as of today or tomorrow Russia can sit down and wait until summer of 2018. The work starts now. The hard work starts now. The devil is always in the detail.”
Infantino earlier gave the thumbs up to work on the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow — which will host the opening match and final — as he toured the construction work going on there.
Russia's preparation for the World Cup appears to be broadly on target, despite delays being reported at some of the stadiums being built and the FIFA corruption scandal casting clouds over the tournament.
The country — hit by an economic crisis caused by the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine — has had to cut spending on the tournament.
Widespread racism in the Russian game and homophobic laws in the country have also raised questions about the event, but sports authorities sought to play down any potential problems.
“I can say this officially: there are no violations of rights and freedoms,” Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said, sitting alongside Infantino.
“Welcome to Russia. It is an open and democratic country.”
A major part of the preparations for the World Cup in 2018 involves building a string of new stadiums or refurbishing existing ones across the country.
Russia will host the 2018 World Cup at 12 venues in 11 cities including Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi.