Flags to be kept down on tight decisions in Russia

Assistant referees at this summer’s World Cup have been told to keep their flag down for tight offside calls, Fifa referees committee chairman Pierluigi Collina has said.

Linesmen will keep their flags down to enable the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to make the correct decision.

Russia 2018 will be the first World Cup to use VAR.

“If you see some assistant referee not raising the flag it’s not because he’s making mistakes,” Collina told reporters at Tuesday’s World Cup referees media day.

“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,” he said.

“If the assistant referee keeps the flag down and the play goes on and maybe a goal comes at the end, there is a chance to review the goal using the technology.”

The Italian, once considered the world’s top official, also revealed that the VAR officials will perform their duties in full kit.

“It’s because they sweat like they do on the pitch,” he 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.”

At the World Cup the VAR will be used to check decisions on four kinds of incident, including goals and ‘missed’ attacking offences in the build-up; penalties awarded and those missed, including ‘missed’ attacking offences in the build-up; direct red cards and cases of mistaken identity where a player is given a red or yellow card.

The referee can accept information via an earpiece from the VAR team, an option for objective calls of fact, such as an offside decision.

For subjective decisions including red cards and fouls in the penalty area, the match referee can review the incident on a TV monitor at pitchside before deciding whether to change his original decision.

Replays of incidents reviewed by VAR will be shown on big screens and spectators will also be told when and why a decision is being reviewed, as well as the reasoning behind the final decision.

Inside the ground, the replays will only be shown after the referee makes a decision, so officials are not influenced by spectators.

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