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FIFA ref's chief defends Club World Cup VAR trial after Ronaldo goal

Mark Donaldson and Stewart Robson give their assessment of how Video Assistant Refereeing can be properly utilised.
Cristiano Ronaldo has a laugh after the VAR fiasco in Real Madrid's Club World Cup match.

FIFA's Head of Refereeing, Massimo Busacca, has defended the use of video replay that is being tested at the Club World Cup in Japan following criticism of the technology.

Video assistant referees (VAR) was used in an official FIFA match for the first time in Wednesday's semifinal between Atletico Nacional and Kashima Antlers to award a penalty.

It was also employed during Real Madrid's 2-0 triumph over Club America in the other semifinal.

Referee Enrique Caceres consulted the VAR system for a possible offside after Cristiano Ronaldo had scored Madrid's second in the final stages of the game.

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Replays showed that Ronaldo was onside, but the delay dampened the celebration of what was Ronaldo's 500th club goal.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane and midfielder Luka Modric are in favour of improving football but claimed after the game that the VAR system has flaws and it creates confusion, as it did in Ronaldo's goal. "For me the important thing was that the goal was correctly given," Busacca told Cadena Cope. "The referees are doing a miraculous job because they've hardly had any time to test it. We accept the criticism but we need time.

"We are at the beginning of it.

"We are very satisfied because we haven't seen any injustice."

The video assistance has been integrated to support officials but the referees are still the main decision-makers.

"The main point of technology is that no one loses because of a refereeing mistake," Busacca said. "It will be used in the event of doubts that can affect the result of a game.

"Only the referees can ask for it as they know when they make a mistake or when they have a doubt. If the players were to ask for it, it would cause a lot of interruptions."

Among the criticism of the VAR system is the delay in play.

However, Busacca says that while "there is no time limit", the important thing is for the "correct decision" to be given.

"I'm sure Spain would not have minded waiting 30 seconds or five minutes to have had a play revised during the World Cup in Korea," Busacca said in reference to Spain having two perfectly good goals disallowed against South Korea in the 2002 World Cup which saw them eliminated on penalties in the quarterfinals.

"If a goal were to be scored before there is a play that needs to be revised, the goal would be annulled."

Sunday's final between Real Madrid and Kashima in Yokohama will mark the end of the test process for VARs but live trials could still go ahead globally in the future.

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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