Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Russian Football Union (RFU) head, Vitaly Mutko, has said the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system will not be tested in the Russian Premier League (RFPL) this year.
The system, which provides referees with instant replays of incidents during a match, made its debut at a major tournament during the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, held in Russia last summer.
On Wednesday, the RFPL voted for the introduction of the VAR system, but Mutko said it will not be implemented before the league’s winter break – from December to March – because it is “not a simple thing to do,” TASS reported.
“There is purchasing the equipment, the preparation of specialists, signing the experiment agreement with FIFA. We are working on that now. FIFA has two companies, one from which it works and another licensed to supply such equipment,” Mutko explained.
“I am certain in two or three years’ time, VAR will be fully implemented universally, it will be fully included to the rules of the game,” Mutko said.
Prior to the Confed Cup, the system had been trialed in top-flight football in Australia’s A-League and Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States. Since the tournament, it has further been commissioned for use in the German Bundesliga and Italy’s Serie A.
One of Serie A’s most famous exports, former fearsome referee Pierluigi Collina, praised the performance of VAR at the Confed Cup.
“We are very happy with the results we have had without forgetting that we are a work in progress,” Collina said at the tournament’s closing press conference, attended by Mutko and FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
“We are aware we can improve. What can give the referees experience is only experience itself. But remember that the purpose of the VAR is to avoid big mistakes, not to rule on everything, on things that remain open to interpretation,” he added.