The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will utilize video review. FIFA president Gianni Infantino made the news official on Friday at a press conference in Miami, where the FIFA Council was meeting.
Pressure increased on soccer’s world governing body over the past year around the topic of video review — commonly referred to as VAR (video assistant refereeing) — at the 2019 World Cup after the process was implemented at the Men’s World Cup in 2018. FIFA until recently remained noncommittal over the use of video review at the 2019 World Cup, much to the annoyance of prominent women’s players and coaches. The timing of official approval of video review is similar to that seen for last year’s Men’s World Cup, however.
Earlier this year, FIFA held a training camp for women’s referees which included training with video review and interacting with video assistant referees. The training in Doha included real-time use of the system in boys U-17 matches. No women’s competition in the world currently uses video review. Following that training, a FIFA panel overseeing the Women’s World Cup recommended the use of video review at this year’s World Cup, clearing the way for Friday’s approval.
The Women’s World Cup traditionally features all female referees. In December, FIFA named an all-female refereeing roster for the 2019 World Cup, consisting of 27 center officials and 48 assistant referees. Given that video review isn’t currently used in any women’s competitions, the video assistant referees — who monitor calls on screens away from the field — are likely to be mostly men who are already trained on the system.
The video review calls for the 2018 World Cup in Russia were made from FIFA’s International Broadcast Center near Moscow.
“I think it is really important to have as many women referees as we can,” Rapinoe said in October. “In so, there’s not enough women referees that we can’t use VAR. That’s not right. If we’re going to use VAR then we need to train more women referees and have more programs that do that, but if we have to have male referees, that’s fine. I don’t think we have to have all women referees necessarily. If there’s enough women referees great, if not, they need to step up with men.”
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