FIFA unveils VAR operations room ahead of World Cup

Moscow, June 10 (IANS) FIFA has presented the World Cup’s video assistant referee (VAR) operations room, which will make its debut at the tournament’s 21st edition in Russia.

At a press conference on Saturday, Massimo Busacca, head of FIFA’s refereeing department, said the VAR would be important at this summer’s World Cup but stressed that the officials on the field would still be tasked with managing the games.

Five days before the event kicks off on June 14 with a match between host Russia and Saudi Arabia, the VAR system has been in the spotlight and seems to be attracting more proponents and critics as the countdown to the tournament advances.

The VAR’s headquarters consists of two small rooms equipped with numerous TV screens. Four assistant referees inside will monitor each game’s action and potentially help the three-man crew of referees on the field in case there is a disputed call.

A total of 13 people will be dedicated exclusively to the VAR system, while at least six other referees could pitch in when not officiating games on the field, Busacca added.

Each four-person group of assistant referees will be initially in charge of only one game per day in an effort to ensure the highest possible quality, although they could work more if needed.

One will analyse controversial plays, while a second will follow the match live at all times. A third will be responsible for off-side calls and the fourth individual will provide back-up.

A total of 33 cameras — 35 starting with the round of 16 — will enable the VARs to monitor the action. The footage will arrive via a fibre-optic network, while a satellite system can be used in case of a technical problem.

The VAR headquarters is located in the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) outside Moscow, a facility that FIFA President Gianni Infantino inaugurated on Saturday.

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