VAR at the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup

July 3, 2018


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“Technology brings transparency and quality and it provides a positive outcome for teams who decide to attack and take risks.”

Diego Maradona Former Argentine professional footballer and manager

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“I’m definitely in favour of the VAR, because it makes football for sure much more honest.”

Thomas Müller World Champion 2014 with Germany and Striker at FC Bayern München


  1. A video assistant referee team supports the match officials during all 64 matches.
  2. The video assistant referee team is located in a centralised video operation room in Moscow.
  3. The video assistant referee team has access to all relevant broadcast cameras and two dedicated offside cameras.
  4. The video assistant referee does not take any decisions; he supports the referee in the decision making process and the final decision can only be taken by the referee.
  5. Football fans will be informed about the review process by broadcasters, commentators and infotainment.

The team consists of the video assistant referee (VAR) and his three assistant video assistant referees (AVAR1, AVAR2 and AVAR3). All video assistant referee team members are top FIFA match officials.

The FIFA Referee Committee has selected 13 Referees, who will act solely as video assistant referees during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

The selection criteria for the VAR Team was primarily based on their experience as Video Match Officials in their respective National Associations and Confederation competitions, in addition to their successful participation in several preparatory seminars and FIFA competitions, where they enhanced their VAR knowledge and skills by using the system.

In addition to the 13 Video Assistant Referees, some of the Referees and Assistant Referees who were selected for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia will also act as Video Match Officials during FIFA’s main competition. These appointments will be made before the matches.

Four replay operators select and provide the best camera angles. Two of them pre-select the most likely camera angles while the other two provide the final angles chosen by the VAR and the AVAR2 for each checked or reviewed incident.


The VAR watches the main camera on the upper monitor and checks or reviews incidents on the quad-split monitor. He is responsible for leading the VAR team and communicating with the referee on the field of play.


The AVAR1 concentrates on the main camera and keeps the VAR informed about live play if an incident is being checked or reviewed.


The AVAR3 focusses on the TV programme feed, assists the VAR in evaluating incidents and ensures good communication between the VAR and AVAR2 located at the offside station.


The AVAR2 is an assistant referee located at the offside station. He anticipates and checks any potential offside situations to speed up the VAR check and review process.


A video assistant referee (VAR) has a very complex task when using video technology in a match at the at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. In this video, Felix Zwayer explains what a VAR actually does.


Mark Geiger, FIFA Referee explains the time, training and preparation that goes into becoming a VAR.


Roberto Rosetti, VAR Refereeing Project Leader explains how the review process functions when the VAR Team are checking or reviewing each of the four match-changing situations.


The video assistant referee team supports the referee from a centralised video operation room (VOR), located in the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) in Moscow. All relevant camera feeds from the 12 stadiums are provided to the VOR through a fibre optic network. The referee on the field at each stadium talks to the VAR team via a sophisticated fibre-linked radio system.


The VOR is a vital part of Video Assistant Referee (VAR). The VOR is not only where the VAR Team is located but also where all the technology that makes VAR possible is housed. Get an inside look at the setup.


The video assistant referee team has access to 33 broadcast cameras, eight of which are super slow-motion and four of which are ultra slow-motion cameras. In addition, they have access to two offside cameras. These two cameras are only available to the video assistant referee team. For the knockout phase two additional ultra slow-motion cameras will be installed one behind each goal that will also be available to the VAR team. Slow motion replays are mainly used for factual situations, for example, to identify the point of contact of a physical offence or the position of an offence. Normal speed is used for subjective judgments, for example, the intensity of an offence or to determine if a handball was deliberate.

The VAR team has access to all FIFA host broadcaster camera feeds, with the exception of few cameras which do not cover the game, for example the helicopter camera. Neither are the feeds from cameras installed by Media Right Licensees (MRLs) available to the VAR team. Such cameras generally focus on the team the MRLs represent and are not part of the official host broadcaster’s camera plan.


The video assistant referee team supports the decision-making process of the referee in four game-changing situations:

Football and gloved hand

Goals and offences leading up to a goal


Penalty decisions and offences leading up to a penalty

Red card being issued

Direct red card incidents only

Shirt with a question mark

Mistaken identity


Throughout a match, the video assistant referee team constantly checks for clear and obvious errors related to these four match-changing situations. The VAR team communicates with the referee only for clear and obvious mistakes or serious missed incidents.

For the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, the referees have received clear instructions on when to accept information from the video assistant referee and when to review the video footage on the side of the field of play before taking the appropriate action/decision.

On-Field Review (for interpretation)


  • foul committed by attacking player
  • offside interference

Penalty Decisions

  • foul leading up to penalty
  • foul by attacking player

All direct red card incidents

VAR Advice Only (for factual incidents)


  • offside position leading up to goal
  • ball out of play leading up to goal

Penalty Decisions

  • foul committed inside or outside the penalty area
  • ball out of play leading up to penalty
  • offside position leading up to penalty

All cases of mistaken identity


The referee review area (RRA) is a clearly marked area, which contains a mobile screen device that allows the referee to review incidents. It is located pitch-side near the technical areas.


Hand to the Ear

The referee can delay a restart at any time to communicate with the VAR. He will signal this by pointing to his ear.

This is not considered an official VAR review.

Official Review Sign

The referee will make the official VAR review signal to indicate that play has been stopped to review a decision with the on-field review monitor or to change a decision based on information received from the VAR.

An official VAR review only takes place if the referee makes the signal.


Virtual offside lines are computer-generated lines projected onto the broadcast image of the field of play to help the VAR determine whether an offside offense has occurred. The offside lines used are the best possible and most accurate lines that can be generated with existing technology due to calibration using multiple synchronised camera angles.

Virtual offside lines are superimposed on the broadcast image by computer software.  Angle of view, lens distortion, field curvature and many other factors are considered when calculating the true position of the these lines. The lines will be calibrated before each match by the technology provider to take into account the exact pitch dimensions and conditions on the day. The VAR team will have various tools available for determining offside positions, which have been validated in a number of tests across different venues by an independent third party using survey grade equipment.

3D offside line system

Ever wondered how the 3D offside line system works? This video illustrates how the virtual offside line is placed on the field of play, showing the set-up by the technology provider and measurement by the test laboratory.


To ensure that all football fans in the stadium and watching on TV are well informed during a review process, FIFA has developed a VAR information system for broadcasters, commentators and infotainment. For each match, a FIFA staff member informs the broadcasters, commentators and infotainment about the different steps of the review process, including information about the reason for the review and the outcome of the review, via a networked touch tablet.

The person operating the tablet is located in the video operation room and has access to the audio from the referee communication system as well as the camera angles the VAR is looking at. The VAR information system will also be used to automatically create VAR-specific graphic templates for TV and the giant screen in the stadium.


Making sure the technology at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ functions seamlessly is a very complex task that requires a lot of planning, coordination and organisation. Due to this, FIFA has multiple technology providers who are experts in their field to ensure the technology functions correctly. The providers for each of the technologies are as follows:

Video Assistant Referee (VAR): Crescent Comms (audio) and Hawk-Eye Innovations (video)
Goal-Line Technology (GLT): Hawk-Eye Innovations


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