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So VAR, so good? Fifa praises review system in helping referees get '99.3% decisions correct'

It's divided opinion but the results suggest VAR is working. Photo: AP

Forty-eight matches and 122 goals later, the World Cup group stage is done and dusted.

The route to the final is now clearer for the teams that remain; and it’s when the pressure amps up a little more.

This World Cup has not disappointed in spectacular moments and incident – the use of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system has contributed to that.

Former referee Pierluigi Collina (l) is happy with VAR results so far. Credit: FIFA

At a press conference on Friday, FIFA’s referees committee chairman and former referee Pierluigi Collina outlined the use of VAR so far in the tournament.

Over 48 matches, the VAR system analysed 335 incidents – including all 122 goals – which equates to 6.9 uses per match.

It led to 17 reviews – 14 on-field requiring the referee to watch highlights and three that applied to indisputable errors for example offsides. Overall, VAR referrals led to referees making 14 different decisions.

Referees’ decisions were 95% correct without VAR and 99.3% correct with VAR.

335
incidents analysed by VAR during the World Cup stage
17
reviews made by VAR
14
decisions changed by VAR

Collina hailed its success: "We have always said that VAR doesn't mean perfection - there could still be the wrong interpretation or a mistake - but I think you would agree that 99.3 per cent is very close to perfection."

Collina explained referees could spend less time making a decision using VAR but FIFA want to ensure that the decision is definitely correct. Credit: AP

To illustrate why FIFA is so pleased with VAR's introduction, Collina showed reporters clips of four contentious moments during the group stage, complete with footage from the VAR control room and the audio of the communication between the VAR and the referee.

Asked if FIFA would consider letting broadcasters use this audio during games, Collina said: "Before running you have to learn to walk. I don't know what's possible in the future, but I think it's a bit early for that now. I agree it would be interesting, though, and would perhaps make decisions better accepted by the football community."

There has been frustration over the use of (and lack of) VAR.

Collina was asked why England's Harry Kane and Serbia's Aleksandar Mitrovic were not given penalties for being held during their games against Tunisia and Switzerland, respectively.

Fans believed that VAR should have reviewed several fouls made by Tunisia players on England's Harry Kane Credit: AP

Collina explained he would not comment on specific incidents but said: "You might have appreciated that there were some incidents that suddenly disappeared or started to be punished.

"It's impossible to be right from the start but because we noticed, we intervened, and we fine-tuned. I think you can appreciate things have changed during the tournament."

In their next match against England were awarded two penalties against Panama for similar incidents that went unpunished against Tunisia.