Football’s law-making body concedes the A-League grand final has exposed a flaw in the global protocols for video reviews and underlined the glaring need for a “back-up system” in case of technological glitches.
Saturday’s video assistant referee (VAR) failure in Newcastle has reverberated around the world, with the German Bundesliga among the competitions which have contacted Football Federation seeking information as to what went so wrong.
FFA has already sent a preliminary account to IFAB, the organisation responsible for the laws of the game, and will prepare a more detailed paper once Hawk-Eye has analysed the ‘crash dump report’ from the software program that froze moments before Kosta Barbarouses’ ninth-minute goal for Melbourne Victory.
It meant the VAR on duty, Craig Zetter, did not have access to the side-on camera angle which made it abundantly clear that defender James Donachie was offside when he headed the ball across the box for Barbarouses to score.
It comes just a month out from the World Cup in Russia, where the VAR will be used for the first time at football’s showpiece event.
“The incident in question was primarily the result of a short-term failure of the technology rather than human error on the part of the VAR team,” an IFAB spokesman told AAP in a statement.
“No technology system is perfect and what is important is for everyone to learn the lessons from this incident and ensure that when there is a technology failure there are procedures and a back-up system, so the problem can be overcome.”
A-League chief Greg O’Rourke confirmed to AAP that there was no alternate system in place for the grand final, which he believed was consistent with all leagues using VAR across the world and the protocols set out by IFAB.
“That’s clear. They have back-up hardware, but this was a software crash,” he said.
Although it will be of no comfort to the Newcastle Jets and their supporters, the creation of a standardised fallback option will most likely be the long-term legacy of their controversial 1-0 defeat.
O’Rourke said FFA had already recognised the need for one and several months ago had toured the NRL’s ‘bunker’, which has a back-up booth in case of emergency.
With the A-League still committed to the use of VARs, it’s likely the competition will look to emulate the rugby league set-up, which oversees all matches from a central location.