BARCELONA (Reuters) - FIFA president Gianni Infantino defended the time it takes to clarify incidents referred to the video assistant referee (VAR) by saying the delays are negligible when compared to other stoppages that take place during a match.
The system that allows off-pitch referees to re-examine a decision or an incident referred to them by the match official has been used in Bundesliga and Serie A this season and trialled in some English FA and League Cup games.
However, VAR’s use has been criticised by some people who feel it interrupts the flow of a game.
During Tottenham Hotspur’s 6-1 win over Rochdale in Wednesday’s FA Cup fifth round replay, five of the goals scored and numerous other incidents were referred to VAR. This led to a barrage of criticism from pundits while Spurs defender Danny Rose called the game “shambolic”.
Infantino, however, said the delay to get a decision was a small price to pay for making the right call.
“One of the main criticisms is about the time that is lost and many people have talked about it without any knowledge,” Infantino told the Web Sport Congress in Barcelona on Friday via video link.
“Let’s look at the facts. We’ve analysed almost 1000 games and the reality is you lose an average of 90 seconds per game. Is that too long? Perhaps.
“But we lose an average of seven minutes per game due to throw ins (when the ball goes out of play). If we lose seven minutes on throw ins, we can lose 90 seconds to get decisions right.”
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is expected to decide on Saturday whether to approve the use of VAR. Infantino is VAR’s leading supporter and has promised it will be used at this year’s World Cup if approved by IFAB.
“It’s an important development for football, a decision we’re going to take tomorrow after studying it in all its details over the years,” added Infantino.
“It’s important because we have to truly help referees who have a very difficult job. In 2018 it cannot be possible that every person in the stadium or in their house can find out immediately if the referee has made a mistake, and the only person who hasn’t realised that is the referee himself.”
Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Pritha Sarkar