Major League Soccer to trial video referees, plans to implement in 2016
Major League Soccer have confirmed they will start trialling the use of a video referee in friendly matches with the view to design a system that can be operable across football worldwide within 12 months.
FIFA, faced with mounting pressure to catch up with other professional sports who have adopted the use of video-officiating, earlier this year rejected an application from the Dutch FA (KNVB) to run their own trial.
MLS, however, plans to circumnavigate FIFA's block on trials by staging them in 10 to 15 non-competitive fixtures at the end of October. Officials in the U.S. have said that the trial will focus on reviewing decisions in three areas; penalty kicks, red cards and the awarding of a goal.
"In all those cases, there is a natural stoppage," Jeff Agoos, MLS vice-president of competition, told The Times.
"Our findings show there is ample time to give information to the referee. Depending on the incident, there can be from 40 seconds to well over a minute, plenty of time to review a decision."
THE BEST OF ESPN FC
- Bell: Liverpool fans make themselves heard
- Cox: Leicester improving | Why Poch should stay
- Okwonga: Man United's market | City's title hopes
- Laurens: PSG's pre-UCL issues | Hertha's curse
- Highlights (U.S. only): Stuttgart 1-3 BVB
- FC TV: Champions League W2W4 | LVG wrong
- News | Transfer | Toe Poke | Fantasy | FC TV | Podcast | MLS
The Dutch trial proposed a 15-second timespan for the video official to intervene in such decisions but Agoos insists that no mandated period should be set to help the flow of the game.
"We are huge proponents of using technology to improve the game without disrupting the flow," Agoos said. "It's about marrying those two things.
"Ultimately, we believe the referee should have as much, if not more, information than the fan who goes to the game. At the moment the fan has more on his smartphone. We don't think that makes sense.
"The discussion in football, 'That it's always been that way,' doesn't hold water with us. We are not looking for perfection. It doesn't exist. There will always be the human element but the game is so fast now that it's impossible for the officials to keep track."
Agoos confirmed that MLS club owners have backed the trials and if they prove successful plan to wheel out the video referee system ahead of the 2016 season. That is, if FIFA are convinced to allow it.
"The MLS would be very happy to take the lead for the rest of the game," Agoos said.
"Football's culture is to be conservative but for us, the technology is natural. It's in our sports, the norm here. It's going to be implemented in football. Once the door is open, it's just a question of how wide."