"Technology cannot substitute human decisions," says FIFA head of refereeing

FIFA head of refereeing Massimo Busacca said too much dependence on technology could kill the sport of football, keeping in mind the use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) at the upcoming 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Massimo Busacca felt the VAR system, which could at best complement referees on the pitch, has just made a beginning and could become better.   -  AFP

Amidst demands for the use of technology in football, FIFA head of refereeing Massimo Busacca advocates judicious use of technology in the conduct of the sport.

FIFA has identified four incidents – awarding of goals, penalty decisions, red card decisions and mistaken identity – which may prove game changing and has been backing the use of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) as part of its innovations in the run-up to next year’s World Cup in Russia.

READ: FIFA U-17 World Cup: German coach lambasts poor refereeing

However, the VAR system courted criticism following its use in the Confederations Cup in Russia in June and July this year.

Busacca said too much dependence on technology could kill the sport. "Technology like microphone, camera cannot substitute your skills. Technology can only be a help for us but cannot be a substitute to human decisions. The day we think that technology will substitute human decisions, we will kill football. We will kill referee(s), we will kill everything," Busacca told reporters following an open training session for referees here on Monday.

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According to the 48-year-old former Swiss referee, technology could at best complement referees on the pitch. "I have to be honest. There is something very difficult to see for the referees. If one of the situations at the World Cup can destroy the game and the tournament, then I will say 'welcome'. But, on the other hand, I have to admit that we have to continue to teach referees to develop their standards on the pitch.

"We still think technology can play a big role in eliminating a big scandal in a game and I am really positive about it. We still remember a scandal or a terrible decision happened long ago."

Busacca said the VAR system had just made a beginning and could become better.

Talking about Indian referees, Busacca said, “They lack experience of top games but we saw in this country football is increasing and in my opinion in a few years top referees from India will be at top level FIFA competitions.”

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Busacca informed that some referees and instructors were invited for a week’s exposure with top international referees. “My feeling was that they really appreciated and understood what they have to do. Now it's in their hands. They know what they have to do,” he said.

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