Bundesliga to use video assistant referees in 2017/18

1 June 2017 - The 2016/17 campaign has come to an end, but preparations are already being made for the start of next season with one particularly important change set to come into effect when the action resumes in August.

Video assistant referees are to be used in all 306 Bundesliga games from the start of the 2017/18 season. Having conducted thorough tests since the start of last term, the DFL [Deutsche Fußball Liga / German Football League] and the DFB [Deutscher Fußball-Bund / German Football Association), who are jointly promoting the project, have agreed to continue the two-year test phase, which is being headed by FIFA and the International Football Association Board (IFAB). Although this is still a test phase, video assistants will be able to influence referees’ decisions from the start of next season.

Key questions and answers regarding video assistants

When will video referees come into play?

Video assistants will only be used in four situations:

  • Irregularities in the case of a goal decision (a foul, handball and offside)
  • In penalty box situations where the referee unjustifiably awarded a penalty or not
  • For offences that should lead or should have led to a red card
  • In cases of mistaken identity over a yellow or red card

Video assistant referees will only intervene when the referee has clearly made an incorrect decision. If no such decision has been made, the video assistant will not get involved. The video assistant will therefore not be a solution to all controversial refereeing decisions, as some incidents will remain difficult to analyse. Even so, the video assistants will reduce the likelihood of an incorrect decision being made.

Who will act as video assistant?

The 23 referees who officiated in the Bundesliga in 2016/17 will all act as video assistant referees at some stage next season. That includes the three officials who having turned 47 are now too old to take charge of a German top-flight match: Dr Jochen Drees, Günter Perl and Wolfgang Stark, who has taken charge of more Bundesliga matches than any other referee (344 games). All 23 officials have completed a thorough training programme.

Where will the video assistant follow the action?

As in previous tests, the video assistants will operate from Cologne’s Replay Centre. In exceptional cases - such as on the final two matchdays, when all nine games take place simultaneously - they would be permitted to keep track of the action from a van outside the stadium, but this is unlikely to happen.

How do they make their decisions?

Generally speaking, the final say still lies with the referee on the pitch, so the video assistant cannot overrule the referee. They are however a valuable addition to the team of five officials, which also comprises two assistant referees and the fourth official. The video assistant will be assisted in turn by video technicians, whose job is to enable the video assistant to analyse any given decision as quickly and easily as possible by providing him with the best replays and angles of the incident in question. If necessary, the video assistant can liaise with his supervisor, who will also be following the action at the Replay Centre on matchdays.

Which in-game pictures will the video assistant be able to use?

The video assistant will have access to all camera angles provided by Sportcast GmbH for the broadcast of Bundesliga matches. A subsidiary of the DFL, Sportcast GmbH provides live pictures for the worldwide broadcast of all Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 games. Overall, the video assistant will have access to 17 different camera angles.

How does the referee communicate with the video assistant?

Via radio. The referee on the pitch uses the same headset to communicate with the video assistant as he does to liaise with the assistant referees and the fourth official.

Who initiates communication?

Communication can be initiated by both parties - the referee and the video assistant.

How long will it take for a decision to be made?

There is no time limit, as such. The aim is to reach a decision as quickly as possible. During training in the 2016/17 season, the time needed to reach a decision was considerably reduced.

Will the referee have access to instant replays?

Yes. The referee will be able to review incidents in the Review Area on the edge of the pitch. They will be shown the incident from the angle chosen by the video assistant to analyse the situation.

Can teams challenge decisions made by the team of officials, like in tennis?

No. The IFAB confirmed that teams would not be able to challenge decisions at the start of the two-year test phase in 2015.

How are fans informed that the video assistant is being utilised?

To inform the players that they are establishing contact with the video assistant, the referee will raise a hand to his headset. If a video replay is available, the referee will make a rectangle shape with his hands to symbolise a TV screen. Fans will also be kept informed via the scoreboards in the stadium, while viewers at home will be shown the replay used by the video assistant to analyse the situation.