VAR system 'fine-tuned' after criticism

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Speaking to reporters at a briefing on video assistant referees (VAR) in Moscow today, Collina was asked why England's Harry Kane and Serbia's Aleksandar Mitrovic were not given penalties for being held during their games against Tunisia and Switzerland, respectively.

Pierluigi Collina, the chair of Fifa's refereeing competition, and his team have assessed all 48 group matches and, of the 335 incidents that were reviewed by VAR, said that the 14 changes of decision had lifted the percentage of correct outcomes from 95 per cent to 99.3 per cent. "We would have prefered to speak of 100 per cent but 99.3 per cent is something that is very very close to perfection and things have been fine-tuned based on what is occurring", he said.

In general, Collina and his colleagues on the committee said they believe VAR has been huge success at Russian Federation 2018.

Having reviewed the first 48 games, Collina said there have been 335 incidents checked - almost seven per game - with 14 on-field reviews made by referees and three reviews made by the VAR team on "factual decisions", such as off-sides.

Referees called 95% of incidents correctly without VAR, but the system - which is being used for the first time at a major worldwide tournament at Russian Federation 2018 - improved that success rate to 99.3%.

"VAR doesn't mean perfection", Collina said.

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The footage Collina showed was accompanied by audio recordings of the communication between VAR officials and the referee that is not broadcast during matches.

"I agree it would be interesting, though, and would perhaps make decisions better accepted by the football community". "Which language would we use?"

"We were aware VAR could interrupt the flow of play and time could be lost, so we wanted as few interventions as possible", he said.

There were just under 27 fouls and about three-and-a-half cautions per game, which is consistent with the major leagues, but there has been a big increase in the number of penalties: 24 already here, compared to 10 at this stage in Brazil and South Africa.

The average time required for a VAR review has been 80 seconds, although that figure is slightly higher for an on-pitch review.