England’s Football Association (FA) has confirmed that it will use video assistant referee (VAR) technology for the first time in an official UK game during the national soccer team’s friendly against Germany on Friday.
The fixture is being played at London’s Wembley Stadium, which has been tested and given approval to use the system by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), after a successful trial took place at a Wembley Cup charity game last month. The match will be officiated by Polish referee Pawel Raczkowski, and his compatriot Pawel Gil will be the first VAR to operate in England.
In 2016 a two-year trial of the system was approved by the IFAB, which outlines that it is only to be used ‘to correct clear errors and for missed serious incidents’ in ‘match-changing’ situations.
The technology can be used to review goals, red cards, penalties and cases of mistaken identity, and was used at the 2017 Fifa Confederations Cup before being introduced to Italy’s Serie A and the Bundesliga in Germany at the beginning of this season.
The use of VAR has generated much debate, with critics arguing that the system slows the game down and fails to rectify the issue of human error. Fifa president Gianni Infantino claimed earlier this year that the technology has been a ‘great success’, but admitted that improvements still need to be made on finer details such as the speed of decisions.
The system ran into further controversy at the beginning of this week, when the German Football Association (DFB) was forced to sack Hellmut Krug as head of its VAR project after tabloid newspapers accused him of being biased towards Schalke - his hometown club - in a game against Wolfsburg.
Fixtures between England and Germany have also thrown up controversial goal-line incidents in the past, such as in Geoff Hurst’s still disputed second goal in the 1966 Fifa World Cup final against West Germany at Wembley, and Frank Lampard’s disallowed effort at the 2010 edition of the tournament in South Africa, which replays showed had crossed the line and which persuaded former Fifa president Sepp Blatter of the need for video aids for referees.