MLS, USL receive IFAB approval for live video assistant referee experiments

Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League (USL) announced on Friday morning that they have received approval from the International Football Association Board (The IFAB) to conduct live Video Assistant Referee (VAR) experiments in select competitive matches during the remainder of the USL regular season.

The first VAR experiment in a competitive match takes place on Friday night at Red Bull Arena, where New York Red Bulls II host Orlando City B (7 pm ET, free live stream via YouTube and USL MatchCenter). Other VAR experiments will be conducted at four other Red Bulls II matches: Aug. 19 (vs. Louisville), Aug. 28 (vs. FC Cincinnati), Sept. 7 (vs. Harrisburg City Islanders) and Sept. 17 (vs. FC Montreal).

Red Bull Arena hosted a VAR workshop held by IFAB last month. 

“During the last workshop, we received significant feedback from the participating competition organizers from across the world,” IFAB Secretary Lukas Brud said in a statement. “We believe that these additional tests will enable us to refine the experiment protocols and implementation procedures which are key to the success of the forthcoming trials.”

MLS was selected in June as one of six leagues around the world for video replay testing over what is expected to be a two-year period. 

The Video Assistant Referee initiative, as outlined by the IFAB, consists of an additional referee positioned in a booth with technology that allows access to video from every available camera angle at a finger's touch. A communications system will allow the VAR to alert and advise the head referee on “game-changing” decisions: goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents, mistaken identity.

According to a release, "the intention is for IFAB to make a decision in 2018 or 2019 on whether or not video assistant referees should be introduced in football."