Busacca praises female refs but says VAR is still a work in progress

By Samindra Kunti in Kolkata

October 25 – FIFA’s head of referees Massimo Busacca has praised the steps female referees have taken at the U-17 World Cup in India. He reiterated that VAR is a work in progress.

Busacca delivered another trademark press conference, assessing the referees’ performances at the U-17 in India with his Italian charm and loqaciousness. His media addresses have slowly become part and parcel of FIFA tournaments.

With four matches left in India the Italian’s evaluation of the refereeing standards has been positive. Still, Brazil’s elimination of Germany was contested: German coach Christian Wueck accused the match official of missing a crucial fault in the build-up to Brazil’s second goal.

Bussaca preferred to focus elsewhere and highlighted the progress female refereeing has made during the tournament. During the final round of group matches Switzerland’s Esther Staubli became the first female referee to lead a game at a FIFA men’s tournament. New Caledonia drew 1-1 with Japan in Kolkata.

“Since joining FIFA in 2011, I have always said that we need to work together and exchange ideas,” explained Busacca. “While female refereeing has developed tremendously, these officials understandably sometimes lack experience. Being involved here in India is a big step forward. We have shown that the door is open, and both sides have benefited hugely from the experience. We need to keep giving these referees every opportunity to improve.”

He also had a few words to say about the VAR, which overshadowed some of the Confederations Cup matches in Russia last summer. VAR proved to be time-consuming and often controversial, defeating FIFA’s goal of stemming endless football debates.

“Technology cannot substitute your skills,” said Busacca. “Technology can only be a help for us. But it cannot substitute human decisions. The day we will think technology can substitute human decision it will kill football, referees and everything.

“But I am very positive (about VAR). I don’t want to be arrogant to say this for sure will be the solution for football today. We are at the beginning and we did some trials in FIFA around 75 games,” he added.

Last December video assistant refereeing was introduced for the first time in a FIFA competition at the Club World Cup in Japan. The technology was also used at the recent U20 World Cup in South Korea. IFAB will make the final decision if VAR will be applied at next year’s World Cup.

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