Leave it to VAR: World Cup linesmen told not to flag for tight offsides

Fans inside the World Cup stadiums will be shown replays of incidents requiring video assistant refereeing decisions to reduce the confusion which has reigned during trials of the technology in England and other domestic leagues.

Supporters at the tournament in Russia will be shown clips of the passage of play which was under revision but only once the referee has made his decision and play has restarted.

Pierluigi Collina, the chairman of Fifa’s referees committee, said the problems with lengthy delays during trials this season had been ironed out. The Italian also said assistant referees had been advised to keep their flag down for tight offside calls and to leave it to VAR to decide.

“If you see some assistant referee not raising the flag, it’s not because he’s making mistakes,” Collina said. “It’s because he’s respected the instruction to keep the flag down. They were told to keep the flag down when there is a tight offside incident and there could be a very promising attack or a goal-scoring opportunity because, if the assistant referee raises the flag, then everything is finished.”

There will then be 13 referees who officiate, exclusively watching the control screens in the video operations room. Collina confirmed the VARs would wear the full kit, identical to their colleagues out on the pitch.

“It’s because they sweat like they do on the pitch,” the Italian former referee said. “It’s not like watching a game on the couch while drinking coffee. It’s very stressful so they can’t be dressed like a clerk.”

Néstor Pitana of Argentina will officiate the opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday.

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