A-League VAR disaster reverberates around the world

Soccer's law-making body concedes the A-League grand final has exposed a flaw in the global protocols for video reviews and underlined the glaring need for a "back-up system" in case of technological glitches.

Saturday's video assistant referee (VAR) failure in Newcastle has reverberated around the world, with the German Bundesliga among the competitions that have contacted Football Federation Australia seeking information as to what went so wrong.

FIFAs technology innovation department chief Johannes Holzmueller.

Photo: AP

FFA has already sent a preliminary account to IFAB, the organisation responsible for the laws of the game, and will prepare a more detailed paper once Hawk-Eye has analysed the "crash dump report" from the software program that froze moments before Kosta Barbarouses' ninth-minute goal for Melbourne Victory.

It meant the VAR on duty, Craig Zetter, did not have access to the side-on camera angle, which made it abundantly clear that defender James Donachie was offside when he headed the ball across the box for Barbarouses to score.

It comes just a month out from the World Cup in Russia, where the VAR will be used for the first time at soccer's showpiece event.


Two years of testing before the June 14 opening game have left Johannes Holzmueller, the head of FIFAs technology innovation department, "sweating…because we were unsure if everything works perfectly.

"However, now that we go into the World Cup we are quite sure that we will have the best set-up that is possible at the moment."

But he refused to say the network of digitally-enhanced cameras overseen by experienced assistant referees would be foolproof in time for the World Cup that kicks off in Moscow.

"It is technology; it can fail," Holzmueller said at a media conference.

An IFAB spokesman said the A-League grand final incident was "primarily a result of a short-term failure of the technology rather than human error on the part of the VAR team".

"No technology system is perfect and what is important is for everyone to learn the lessons from this incident and ensure that when there is a technology failure there are procedures and a back-up system, so the problem can be overcome."

A-League chief Greg O'Rourke confirmed that there was no alternate system in place for the grand final, which he believed was consistent with all leagues using VAR across the world and the protocols set out by IFAB.

"That's clear. They have back-up hardware, but this was a software crash," he said.

Although it will be of no comfort to the Newcastle Jets and their supporters, the creation of a standardised fallback option will most likely be the long-term legacy of their controversial 1-0 defeat.

O'Rourke said FFA had already recognised the need for one and several months ago had toured the NRL's "bunker", which has a back-up booth in case of emergency.

With the A-League still committed to the use of VARs, it's likely the competition will look to emulate the rugby league set-up, which oversees all matches from a central location.

AAP with AP

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