Better transparency during the 2018/19 Bundesliga season should increase faith in VAR with more information for spectators in the stadium on TV screens and a greater level of certainty through the use of a calibrated offside line. The changes will already be in place during this Sunday’s Supercup (20:30 CEST) between DFB-Pokal winners Eintracht Frankfurt and Bundesliga champions Bayern München.
Exclusively in the case of reviewing referring decisions, compact textual clarifications will be provided to the clubs directly from the Video-Assistant Centre in Cologne so they can be displayed on their stadium’s big screen. As a result, spectators will be able to see the reason behind the video review (for goals, penalties, red cards and mistaken identity), as well as the referee’s final decision. The same information is also available for TV viewers, with media partners also able to use the graphics.
The new measures follow an analysis of VAR intervention at the 2018 Wold Cup in Russia. The World Cup statistics and statistics from the Bundesliga during the 2017/18 season, particularly the second half of the campaign, show a common trend. During the World Cup’s 64 games, 0.31 VAR interventions per game were recorded. In the Bundesliga’s 306 games in 2017/18, there were 0.29 VAR decisions per game, and 0.25 per game in the second half of the season. At the World Cup, a review lasted 80 seconds on average, while it was 57 seconds in the Bundesliga (53 in the second half of the season).
Head of refereeing at the DFB Lutz Michael Fröhlich explained the reasons behind the improvements during the second half of the Bundesliga season: “During the winter break, we refined the role of the referee on the pitch as the decision maker and the video assistants as additional support. Reviews would be implemented only in the case of clear and obvious referring errors. We decided not to continue to meticulously look for errors, something which had led to a greater number of checks earlier in the season.”
Ansgar Schwenken, member of the DFL executive committee and DFL director of footballing affairs and supporters commented: “The implemented measures will continue to be improved and aim to ensure a greater level of acceptance among fans, since the presence of the video assistants last season was something completely new and needs some getting used to.”
The DFL and DFB considered the successful implementation of the calibrated offside line at the World Cup as cause to introduce it in the Bundesliga, not to mention that the German video assistants who were in Russia considered the offside line to be very helpful. Furthermore, the same system used at the World Cup (Hawk-Eye) will be used in the Bundesliga.
For close decisions, the best possible grounds for the use of the calibrated offside will be ensured by high-quality technical equipment and highly-qualified video assistants. Starting this season, there will be the possibility to use a 3D offside line in scenarios where the decision is particularly tight. A video graphic will also be provided to TV broadcasters when an offside decision is checked by VAR.
The company Riedel have also provided Bundesliga referees with a new radio broadcast system that will allow for the best possible communication with their video assistants. The international company – with their German headquarters in Wupppertal – boasts a great deal of experience in sports communication technology. The Riedel system has been a used in Formula 1 for many years, enabling communication between the driver and the pits. The company has also provided technical equipment for the Olympic Games.
After a two-year test phase, VAR will be officially introduced into all 306 Bundesliga matches. The decision was unanimously reached by Bundesliga clubs on 22nd May 2018 at the DFL members meeting. Prior to that on 3rd May, the move was approved by the worldwide football regulating body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB).
Bundesliga 2 clubs agreed to ‘offline’ testing during the 2018/19 season. 70 potential candidates will be trained for the role of video assistant, with referees from both the second and third tier of German football among them. Initially, video assist will not be used live at games in Bundesliga 2. An official introduction of VAR in Bundesliga 2 for the 2019/20 season will likely be decided by the 18 clubs at the next DFL members meeting at the end of the year.