Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology is coming to the USL, as the MLS has received approval for its use in select matches for the rest of this season. The approval for the MLS came from the International Football Association Board (IFAB). VAR will make its debut tonight during a match between the New York Red Bulls II and Orlando City B at Red Bull Arena, and will be used in additional games at the venue between now and the end of the season.
Following the second IFAB workshop at Red Bull Arena last month, MLS and the USL offered The IFAB an opportunity to further test communication between the Video Assistant Referee and the on-field referee through trials in select USL regular-season matches. These trials are important preparation for future experiments that will take place in competitions across the seven countries confirmed for participation in the VAR program, as well as in select FIFA competitions.
In collaboration with the USL, and with IFAB oversight, MLS will conduct the first Video Assistant Referee (VAR) experiment in a competitive match this Friday when New York Red Bulls II host Orlando City B at Red Bull Arena in a USL regular-season league match (7 p.m. ET, free live stream via the USL Match Center).
VAR experiments will be conducted in a total of five Red Bulls II games. Matches against Louisville City FC (Aug. 19), FC Cincinnati (Aug. 28), the Harrisburg City Islanders (Sept. 7) and FC Montreal (Sept. 17) are also set to use the VAR protocol.
“During the last workshop, we received significant feedback from the participating competition organizers from across the world,” says IFAB Secretary Lukas Brud, “We believe that these additional tests will enable us to refine the experiment protocols and implementation procedures which are key to the success of the forthcoming trials.”
During the five matches played at Red Bull Arena, The IFAB will focus on ensuring that communication between match officials and the Video Assistant Referee is clear, precise, and efficient, with the aim of reducing avoidable delays during the review process and minimizing the impact on the flow and excitement of the game.
The intention is for The IFAB to make a decision in 2018 or 2019 on whether or not video assistant referees should be introduced in football.
Image courtesy New York Red Bulls.