MLS has announced plans to implement Video Review on a league-wide basis beginning on August 5, and will make the technology available during the playoffs and MLS Cup.
In compliance with procedures outlined by The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the universal decision-making body for the Laws of the Game, a fifth member of a game’s officiating crew, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), located in a booth at the stadium, will have access to all available broadcast angles and check all plays for potential clear and obvious errors or serious missed incidents in four game-changing situations — goals, penalty decisions, direct red cards, and cases of mistaken identity.
The introduction of Video Review into MLS league matches is the culmination of more than three years of extensive research and testing of video review technology by MLS and the Professional Referees Organization (PRO). In addition to Video Assistant Referee-specific camps and education sessions, preparations have included more than 100 matches – both live in-game and offline tests – at stadiums around the country that have provided invaluable training opportunities for VARs and referees.
MLS and PRO are among the pioneers of this initiative worldwide, partnering with the United Soccer Leagues (USL), to facilitate the first test in live competition, on Aug. 12, 2016 at Red Bull Arena. The IFAB will conduct a two-year global study of the implementation of video review in various competitions before making a final decision about the incorporation of the Video Assistant Referee into Laws of the Game. A decision is expected in 2018, or 2019 at the latest.
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Photo of 2013 MLS All-Star Game by Brett Flanders via flickr.com.