For the Russian Football World Cup, Fifa officially authorized the use of the video arbitration system, known as VAR. Stages in Latin America begin to implement it.
After meeting in Bogota last March, the FIFA Council approved the application of the latest changes to the Laws of the Game in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, among which the use of video assistants for support is highlighted. of arbitration in matches.
To understand how this system works, TVyVideo + Radio spoke with Alfredo Cabrera, vice president of sales for Latin America at EVS, who explained that this system uses the same number of cameras used by television transmission and through an easy-to-use interface for the user, the referee can determine a play in case of doubt.
"Fifa does not want additional cameras that are not in the VAR system, to prevent television from having an angle and the video arbitration assistants do not. The system must have connected all the cameras that are in the field or more, never less, "added the manager.
The video arbitration system can be operated in two ways. From a place within the sports scene or from a remote place, which can be a mobile unit located on the outskirts of the stage or a production center in any part of the world connected through fiber. The video signal is carried through a server to the operator who sends the image to the field when it is required, which is observed by the referee through a monitor or a Tablet available.
Alfredo Cabrera stressed that this is an easy to use system, since it only requires one or more servers depending on the number of cameras, one or more clients depending on how many of them are displayed, controllers and monitors. In linked personnel, an operator with basic knowledge in video and replay and one or more trained assistant referees is required.
VAR in Russia
In the specific case of the Russian Football World Cup, Fifa has determined that the video arbitration system will be available in the 64 matches. To do this, the team will assist the referee from a centralized video room located in the International Center for Radio and Television, CIRTV, in Moscow, to which the images captured in the twelve World Cup stadiums will be transmitted by fiber optics. The referee who directs each game will communicate with the VAR team through a sophisticated fiber radio system.
The VAR team will have access to 33 cameras, of which eight allow super-slow recording and four, ultra-slow recording. In addition, you can also see the two cameras designed to determine the offside, exclusively available to the VAR team. For the elimination phase, two additional cameras will be installed that allow ultra-slow recording, one behind each goal. These cameras will also be available to the VAR team.
It is worth clarifying that the assistant video referee does not make any decision, is limited to offering help to the referee when making the final decision, responsibility that only concerns the latter, on topics such as goals and infringements leading to the goal, decisions on penalties and infractions leading to a penalty, direct red cards and confusion of the identity of the offending player. The VAR information system will also be used to create graphs for television and for the stadium's video scoreboard.
When a situation arises that requires video confirmation, the referee will have a person on the playing field who will carry a Tablet in which the plays that are in doubt can be observed.
Russian 2018 World Cup referees received clear instructions on when they should accept information from the assistant video referee and when they should review video recordings next to the field of play before taking action or making a decision. In addition, the FIFA Referees Committee has selected thirteen referees to act exclusively as video assistant referees in Russia.
EVS is one of the manufacturers of broadcast technology that has developed a system to facilitate the video assistant in sports venues. Alfredo Cabrera, explained details of the Xeebra operation, which highlighted that it is very easy to operate and scalable to work with cameras of eight units per system.
The EVS Xeebra allows officials or video operators to easily review any number of camera angles and select the most relevant ones on the intuitive touch screen of the system or with a dedicated controller. Users can also zoom in on the selected images with a simple touch and pinch gesture to review each angle in detail, quickly, efficiently and in full synchronization.
"The idea is to bring this simplicity to football and other sports, such as basketball, volleyball, horse racing and all those that require a verification system. Xeebra a much cheaper than a replay system, which makes it very interesting for the case of Latin America, "added the director of EVS.
A high added value that the system has is that through artificial intelligence they are using the impediment line in the last edition of the system, providing more tools to the video referee.
VAR experience in Latin America
After the decision of the Fifa to adopt the VAR, there are several soccer leagues that have implemented video arbitration systems. In the specific case of EVS technology, there are leagues from Portugal, Poland, South Korea and Spain. In Latin America there are also experiences, such as the matches of the semifinals and the final of the Copa Libertadores.
The director of EVS indicated that there are also football leagues in the region that are testing or waiting for decisions regarding video arbitration, such as the cases of Mexico and Brazil.
Finally Alfredo Cabrera said that "The video arbitration system is made as a tool that helps the referee in making decisions, at no time has been considered as a system that will replace it."