September 24 – FIFA president Gianni Infantino has admitted for the first time that he had his doubts about the use of video assistant referees at the World Cup but insisted the system was now here to stay.
Opening FIFA’s inaugural post-World Cup technical conference in London on Sunday, which pulled together coaches and technical directors from across the globe to discuss emerging trends and tactics, Infantino said that despite always publicly backing VAR, he was not convinced in private that it would prove such a success after so many inconsistencies in its experimental stage.
“We were afraid, I was afraid, at first that it would somehow disrupt the game but it didn’t. It cleaned the game up,” Infantino told delegates.
“We were a little brave, maybe almost crazy, in introducing VAR And were criticised beforehand. But people now realise that this is the future, not because we at FIFA say so but the World Cup showed clearly that it helps.”
Infantino pointed out there were no red cards for serious foul play or violent conduct.
“Players and coaches knew that whatever they did would be seen and that there would be consequences. It helped clean the game for referees who are doing an incredibly difficult job.”
Addressing delegates at the start of the one-day conference that preceded what is expected to be a glittering Best Awards ceremony at London’s Royal Festival Hall today (Monday), Infantino’s only concern was that the rest of the world had still not caught up with Europe in terms of lifting the prestigious trophy.
“The last four World Cup winners are all coming from Europe,” he said. “We need Asian and South American teams to play and to win. We need Africa in world football. We need the whole world to be involved and must focus and concentrate on football development around the world. This is our priority going forward in FIFA because football is the only true global game.”
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