Chile penalty claim vs. Portugal shows VAR can improve - FIFA refs' chief
Massimo Busacca, FIFA's head of refereeing, says that officials are still on a learning curve with trials of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) at the Confederations Cup.
Iranian referee Alireza Faghani did not see a foul by Portugal's Jose Fonte on Chile's Francisco Silva inside the penalty area late on in Wednesday's semifinal. His assistants, who had access to numerous replays, did not intervene either and Busacca admitted that the situation could have been dealt with better.
"The contact has been seen from many angles and with different technologies, and those in charge of VAR get the best [replays]," Busacca is reported as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport. "That penalty seemed clear in view when the action was slowed down as much as possible, but if you just change the angle and play it at a speed close to reality then you have some doubts.
"It seemed like it was just a normal contact, which is probably the impression the Chile players got too since none of them protested, and they are usually quite fiery.
"The referee was close to it and he made a decision based on how he interpreted it. He waited for the VAR and when they told him that they still had doubts, play continued, which is how it should be.
"What could have -- and should have -- happened is that another step could have been taken by asking Faghani to review the incident and see it from a different angle to the one he had live, and then he could have decided. We want referees to continue taking responsibility.
"The way that possible penalty for Chile was treated could have been better, but it's normal that we are in an experimental phase with VAR and we need this time to get the mechanics oiled and to prepare the referees for the potential of this method."
Early trials of a system that both Serie A and the Bundesliga want to officially adopt from next season have otherwise been positive, according to Busacca, who says the technology will nevertheless not eradicate all mistakes entirely.
"There are some certainties where referring to the technology has made a decisive contribution, and I am talking about offside or mistaken identity or violent conduct," he said. "But if it comes down to an interpretation, like a foul inside the penalty area, there is still a grey area.
"Nobody ever said that VAR would eliminate all refereeing problems. That's impossible and will never happen, but it can improve -- that's for sure."
Chile may not have needed the drama of a penalty shootout to beat Portugal and set up a final with Germany had the penalty been awarded late in extra time.
VAR has come in for criticism from players and coaches for the way it has been used at times in the Confederations Cup.
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.