White card has arrived in football
Portugal’s Football Association launched a number of new initiatives on Saturday, including the first use of a white card in a professional football game.
A white card was introduced in the country to provide immediate recognition of positive acts during games. While fans are used to seeing yellow and red cards being used to punish foul play.
After personnel helped a spectator who became ill on the bench during a women’s cup game, the first white card was displayed to medical crews from Sporting Lisbon and Benfica.
Fans were taken aback by the unexpected sight, especially considering that Portugal is currently the only country employing the system and that the International Football Association Board is not behind the effort.
Fans may need to keep an eye on a number of regulation changes and trials that lawmakers are still putting into effect in the upcoming months and years.
Fans’ explanations of VAR judgments
Fans have complained about the decision-making process’s lack of clarity ever since VAR was incorporated into the game.
Particularly match-going spectators have been left in the dark about a number of important decisions made by officials, with goals either being chalked off or reversed with little justification.
Despite having access to replays, even people watching on television have had trouble understanding the decisions made since the subtleties of the rules are not always obvious.
Live communication of VAR decisions to fans both in stadiums and broadcasts will be trialled
Fans have called for increased communication of decisions since VAR was introduced
The comparison has often been made to rugby, with the sport having introduced television match officials way back in 2001.
Legendary rugby referee Nigel Owens last year claimed the TMO system was superior to VAR because decisions were explained to fans, telling talkSPORT ‘You may not agree but you know why the decision has been made’.
It has been a long time coming for football to follow suit, but the game looks set to take a leaf out of rugby’s book.
Approval has been granted by IFAB, which is comprised of representatives of FIFA and the English, Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh Football Associations, for a 12-month trial.
In the past, Australia’s A-League referee Jarred Gillett wore a microphone while officiating a game.
Beginning with the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco next month, the trial will involve live communication of VAR-related decisions in stadiums and via broadcasters.
The trial will encompass international competitions over the following 12 months, and if successful, it may be adopted more widely at the elite level of the game.
Even though it is the first official trial by IFAB, Jarred Gillett, a Premier League official, used a microphone during his final match officiating in Australia’s A-League before moving to England back in 2019. The footage received a lot of positive feedback from fans.
Should the trial be successful, fans can expect something similar in the future.
Adoption of semi-automated offsides
Marginal offside calls have been one of the main frustrations of supporters since the introduction of VAR.
Fans have often complained they are unable to celebrate goals as they did before, as they have had to brace themselves for the chance a minor infringement will have been detected in the build-up to a goal, potentially minutes after the ball has hit the back of the net.
Officials have also faced criticism for the length of time taken to reach verdicts on narrow offside calls.
Semi-automated offsides are expected to adopted by leagues following successful trials
The most high-profile controversy in recent weeks centred around Wolves disallowed goal against Liverpool in the FA Cup, which would likely have proved the winner in the third round tie.
Officials had blamed an over-eager cameraman after VAR Mike Dean was unable to review Toti’s late goal in the 2-2 draw at Anfield earlier this month because Matheus Nunes was not picked up by any of the ITV cameras used.
A similar incident had occurred in Italy in September, when Juventus saw a late winning goal controversially ruled out against Salernitana.
The introduction of semi-automated offside is hoped at putting an end to such controversies, as the next tool to be introduced to support officials.
The technology was used during the World Cup in Qatar and during the Champions League group stage this season, with fans seeing 3D animation to confirm the decisions made.
Wolves disallowed goal against Liverpool is among recent controversies involving VAR
FIFA last year hailed the introduction as an ‘evolution’ of the VAR process, with the system claimed to take mere seconds, helping to speed up decision making.
The system using 12 cameras around the stadium to track players and the ball during play, with artificial intelligence monitoring 12 points on the players’ bodies using a skeletal player tracking system.
Fans can expect to see the semi automated offsides to be used more widely, with Friday marking their introduction into Serie A, while the Premier League are expected to follow suit next season.
Pressure has been increased on Spain to also adopt the technology after a VAR official failed to spot an offside in a crucial match in the relegation battle last week between Cadiz and Elche.
The country’s refereeing body claimed semi-automated offsides would help to eliminate human error.