It took FIFA, soccer's governing body, years to bring goal-line technology into the sport. And even now that the system is approved, there are only a few leagues world taking advantage of it. Still, that decision showed the organization's willingness to evolve and keep up with other sports. Today FIFA, along with the International Football Association Board (which sets the rules for soccer), is taking another step forward by approving tests of video replays to review controversial plays during matches.
According to IFAB, that includes helping referees with "game-changing" decisions such as penalty calls, direct red card incidents and, of course, goals. While trials are expected to begin early next year, FIFA and IFAB won't decide if the Video Assistant Referees (VARs) system will be a permanent fixture until 2018 or 2019. What's more, as part of the wider testing, live experiments are going to be conducted around the world.
Major League Soccer will participate in these tests (its wish came true), as is the case for Germany's Bundesliga, Australia's Hyundai A-League and several competitions under the Brazilian, Dutch and Portuguese football federations. Not a bad start.
Update: We received a statement from MLS Commissioner Don Garber:
Major League Soccer has been a strong proponent of using technology in soccer where it enhances the game, and we are pleased to be among the first leagues in the world to participate in the Video Assistant Referee project.
We believe the time has come for a mechanism that helps referees avoid clearly incorrect decisions that change the game. We look forward to working with The IFAB and FIFA to test video assistance for our referees.