FIFA defends VAR with statistics despite Women's World Cup controversy

The governing body says the system is increasing correct decisions in the sport, and has backed the claim

FIFA says 98 per cent of Video Assistant Referee [VAR] reviewed decisions in the Women's World Cup group stage have been correct despite controversy surrounding several calls made during the tournament.

Pierluigi Collina, chairman of FIFA's Referees Committee, believes VAR is an essential tool to help referees make the right decisions and denied it was still being tested by the governing body.

"VAR cannot be blind, cannot ignore. If you have a tool that offers you the possibility to check, you have to check," Collina said during an entertaining 90-minute press conference in which he showed screenshots of VAR decisions on his mobile phone.

"We are not experimenting. We are simply implementing the laws of the game."

The VAR process has come under criticism for its results during the current Women's World Cup with the tournament marred by incidents such as three goals being disallowed in the France-Brazil round-of-16 match and penalty retakes in two matches for goalkeepers encroaching by centimetres.

During their round-of-16 match defeat to England, Cameroon's player appeared to stop playing on multiple occasions in protest of VAR interventions that went against their team.

According to FIFA, if you take VAR away from the Women's World Cup group stage, the accuracy rate of match-changing decisions, which involve goals, penalties, red cards or mistaken identity, drops from 98% to 92.51%.

VAR referee

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The governing body also points to the system's success at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where it says 99.3% of crucial calls were correct - a number that would be reduced to 95% without the VAR. 

While VAR has been trialled and implemented in several men’s football leagues worldwide, it has yet to be deployed in any women's leagues. 

Its usage at the current World Cup in Paris represents its debut in the women's game with female referees only attending four FIFA-organised sessions on the system's processes.