The possible introduction of video referees has been a hot topic in recent years, even before the International Football Association Board (IFAB) paved the way for this latest test phase at its Annual General Meeting in Cardiff, Wales on 5 March 2016. Video assistant technology was even given a trial run in the Netherlands recently. The possibility of introducing video assistants in professional football has been met with a mixed response by the general public. Some want football to follow in the footsteps of other sports, such as American football and hockey, by implementing video assistant technology at the earliest possible opportunity. Others feel that the use of video assistants will disrupt the flow of the game.
Ultimately, the opportunity to reduce the likelihood of incorrect refereeing decisions in a sport that is becoming more difficult to officiate – largely due to the pace of the modern game – was too good to pass up for the IFAB. The use of tennis-style “challenges“, where both teams can review a decision made by one of the officials, was quickly ruled out.
The League Association Board had already agreed to the trial run on 11 February 2016, long before the IFAB had reached its decision. Participation in the two-year test phase was confirmed when the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga and German Football Association (DFB) signed a contract with FIFA and the IFAB in early 2016.
Video assistants were used for the first time in an international friendly between Italy and France on 1 September 2016. Later that year, they were used in a match involving the German national team for the first time, when the world champions played the Squadra Azzurra in Milan on 15 November.