More information for spectators in stadiums and on TV screens, additional certainty through the use of the calibrated offside line: The best possible transparency is set to further improve the acceptance of the video assistant in the upcoming 2018-19 Bundesliga season. The changes will already be applied for the 2018 Supercup this Sunday (12 August, 8.30 pm) between DFB-Pokal champions Eintracht Frankfurt and Bundesliga champions FC Bayern München.
For presentation on stadium screens, the clubs will – only in the event of a review of a referee decision – receive compact text explanations directly from the Video Assist Center (VAC) in Cologne. Via the clubs’ stadium production, spectators will be informed which of the four reasons for the video assistant to intervene (goal, penalty kick, red card, mistaken identity) is the cause for the check and of the final decision by the referee on the pitch. The same information will be available to screen viewers via the TV base signal in the form of graphics that media partners can choose to display.
The measures have taken an analysis of the use of video assistants at the 2018 World Cup in Russia into account. With regard to the World Cup statistics and the lessons learned from the 2017-18 Bundesliga season, especially the second half of the season, the figures show a similar level. At the World Cup, an average of 0.31 actual video assistant interventions per match was registered in 64 matches. In the 306 matches of the 2017-18 Bundesliga season, it was 0.29 per match and 0.25 per match in the second half. At the World Cup, a review took 80 second on average, in the Bundesliga 57 seconds, 53 in the second half of the season.
On the reasons for the improvements in the second half of the Bundesliga season, DFB Chief Referee Lutz Michael Fröhlich says: “The allocation of roles between the referee on the pitch as the decision-maker and the video assistant as additional support was further specified in the winter break. Also that it’s only about clear and obvious errors. The search for errors was no longer conducted as a detective. This previously led to a much higher number of checks.” Ansgar Schwenken, DFL Director of Football Affairs & Supporters and member of the DFL Executive Committee, says: “Among other things, we expect the steps now taken, which are to be continuously improved, to result in even greater acceptance for the video assistant, which last season was a brand new element that, among others, the fans had to get used to.”
The successful use of the offside line at the World Cup is seen by DFL and DFB as a seal of approval for use in the Bundesliga, especially as the German video assistants in Russia rated the offside line as very helpful. Moreover, the Bundesliga uses the same system (“Hawk-Eye”) that was used at the World Cup. The optimum technical calibration to be performed individually for every Bundesliga match and the video assistant’s in-depth knowledge of the rules even in difficult-to-judge situations provide the best possible basis for the use of the calibrated offside line. From the start of the Bundesliga season, support will also be provided for particularly marginal scenes by the option of a 3D version of the offside line. When an offside situation is reviewed by the video assistant, a graphic of the offside line will be displayed in the TV base signal.
Another new addition is the “Riedel”-brand referee radio to optimise communication with the video assistant. The global operating company from Wuppertal has significant experience in communications technology and in sport – thanks to the long-standing use of “Riedel” systems in Formula 1, e.g. for radio communications between drivers and the pit, and the technical equipment of the organisation as a whole at the Olympic Games.
After a two-year test phase, already practised online in the Bundesliga in the past season, the video assistant will now be officially introduced for all 306 matches of the Bundesliga season. This decision was made by the Bundesliga clubs at the DFL members’ meeting on 22 March 2018. Previously, approval was granted by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which is responsible for global football rules, on 3 March 2018.
For Bundesliga 2, the clubs decided to carry out offline tests in the 2018-19 season. In connection with this, 70 potential candidates for the role of video assistants – including from the pool of Bundesliga 2 and third-flight referees – are being trained in the VAC. This measure is initially being implemented without live accompaniment of Bundesliga 2 matches. The 18 clubs are expected to vote on an official introduction of the video assistant in Bundesliga 2 for the 2019-20 season at the next DFL members’ meeting at the end of the year.