Australasian first as video referees to be trialled in Wellington Phoenix friendly v Beijing BG
The Wellington Phoenix will be the first Hyundai A-League team to play a game with video referees.
Video Assistant Referees (VARs) will feature in their friendly match against Beijing BG on Tuesday night at Westpac Stadium.
It will be the first time an A-League team has had a live trial, where the VARs - there will be a VAR and an assistant VAR present - can communicate with the referees and help change decisions. Matches in the league this season have featured "offline" trials, where VARs were present and reviewing decisions, but only as practise and could not communicate with the referee.
It comes as the A-League moves towards live trials in the league, which will take place over the final two rounds of the season from April 7.
VARs will be able to officiate on four areas: goals, penalties, red cards and mistaken identity.
Every red card and penalty will be reviewed in the booth and if the VARs find anything amiss they will let the match referee know. It has to be an obvious error, not a difference of opinion on a decision that was made.
The match referee then has to order a review, making a rectangular gesture with his hands similar to rugby league referees. He can either take the advice of the VARs to change his decision, or look at the footage himself via a pitchside television monitor.
The Phoenix were given a briefing of the system by Football Federation Australia referee training and development manager Richard Beazley after training on Monday.
The main point of contention among the Phoenix was reviewing offside calls, which VARs will not be able to officiate on unless a player has scored from an offside position. The Phoenix have been stung on multiple occasions this season with players being denied goals and goal-scoring chances because they were called offside when they were onside.
The system was trialled at last year's Fifa Club World Cup with mixed results. One penalty decision took more than a minute to adjudge, but Beazley said the average time for a VAR decision in trials in Europe was 22 seconds.
Fifa is expected to trial VARs officiation on offside calls at the Confederations Cup in Russia later this year, which the All Whites will play at.
Players are not allowed to interfere in the process and will be booked if they ask for a decision to be reviewed.
Beazley played the Phoenix players and coaches four scenarios from recent games where the VARs would have stepped in.
They included Melbourne Victory's Besart Berisha being red carded for an elbow on Brisbane Roar defender Luke DeVere and Roar midfielder Thomas Broich being fouled in the box against Sydney FC, but a penalty not being awarded.
In both instances, Beazley said the VAR would have flagged it to the match referee and the red card would have been rescinded and a penalty awarded.
Phoenix co-coach Des Buckingham said the VARs would be a welcome addition to the league.
"As long as it doesn't delay the game by much and ultimately you get the right decision at the end of it, then that's the most important thing."
As for what team they will trot out for this friendly, with a big match against Melbourne City on Saturday, Buckingham said only Michael McGlinchey would be unavailable.
"The whole squad will be involved in some capacity. We'll start what will probably be a very strong team and it gives us a chance to look at those players that have been on the fringes and those that haven't been involved."
AT A GLANCE
Wellington Phoenix v Beijing BG
Where and when: Westpac Stadium, Wellington, Tuesday 7pm