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La Liga to implement video assistant referees for 2018-19 campaign

La Liga will implement a video assistant referee (VAR) system from the 2018-19 campaign, the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has announced.

Germany's Bundesliga and Italy's Serie A are currently among the leagues trialling the technology, which gives referees the opportunity to review incidents (goals, penalty decisions, red cards) as well as mistaken identity during a game with the assistance of video footage.

An RFEF statement read: "Victoriano Sanchez Arminio, president of the Technical Referees Committee (CTA), has announced to all referees and assistant referees of (Spain's) first division that from next season, the VAR will be implemented in the national league.

"Moreover, it has announced that tests demanded by the International Football Association Board for the VAR system set up will begin soon."

Some players and supporters have argued that the use of VAR affects the rhythm and flow of the game and trials elsewhere have highlighted other potential issues

However, former Spanish referee and International Football Association Board (IFAB) member Carlos Velasco Carballo has reassured fans the implementation of VAR technology in La Liga will only improve the sport.

"It will comply with the slogan of minimum interference and maximum benefit," Velasco Carballo told Cadena Ser. "If there is minimum doubt, VAR will not intervene."

Video assistant referees will be a part of Spanish football from next season.

The VAR has to conduct a "check" on every play involving a game-changing decision and should it detect a blatant error, it will be communicated to the referee's earpiece and recommend a former review. Play would then be stopped to allow the referee to review the incident.

"The referee will always have the final decision as the assistant referee, who looks at the video, will not take any decisions. All he does is to check the given play and in the event that it is a flagrant case, he will advise," Velasco Carballo said.

Velasco said he is confident the VAR system can be up and running by August when the 2018-19 campaign kicks off.

He said: "We are better than Germany and Italy were when they started but time is against us and we need to start to work now because the issue is infinitely much more complex than what people think."

Earlier this season, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez called for VAR to be introduced in La Liga.

"The issue of VAR is fundamental," he said. "That would take away the discretion that referees have. I am in favour of technology, no doubt, as in all sports.

"I don't want to take on [RFEF president Angel Maria] Villar. I have not had a bad relationship with him, but this is a moment to have more transparency in football. Transparency and technology are good for football."

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


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