FIFA test referee microphones during Club World Cup
FIFA are considering further trials for referee microphones at the Under-20 World Cup.
The ongoing Club World Cup is being used as a trial run for another potential refereeing revolution in football, with fans in the stadium able to hear officials explain decisions taken following VAR reviews.
Referees being hooked up with microphones is nothing new in other sports such as the NFL, but it is only now being tested in football, just as the sport is still getting used to Video Assistant Referees and semi-automated offside technology.
On Wednesday, Uruguayan referee Andres Matonte was able to explain why he awarded a late penalty to Real Madrid after reviewing a possible foul in the box during the Spanish club's 4-1 win over Al Ahly in the semi-final in Rabat.
Matonte's exchanges with the Video Assistant Referee remained confidential, but his brief announcement was relayed over loudspeakers in the stadium.
The International Football Association Board, the sport's lawmakers, approved the trial last month with English FA chief executive Mark Bullingham -- who sits on the board -- saying it was "important in terms of transparency."
FIFA is considering further trials at the Under-20 World Cup, scheduled to take place in Indonesia in May and June.
If deemed successful, the system may be given the green light for the Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in July and August.
"I hope the spectators will benefit from this," expressed Pierluigi Collina, the chairman of FIFA's referees' committee.
"We are at the beginning, it's the first time we're doing it, so certainly it might not be perfect...but I'm confident that the outcome will be positive," he added.
The first referee to explain his decisions to spectators was China's Ma Ning, during the tournament's opening game between Al Ahly and Auckland City.
"We decided to (have) this trial...to make the decision taken by the referee after a VAR intervention more understandable (for)...the spectators at the stadium or (in front of) the television," Collina explained.
"I have to say that there are other experiences in other sports, namely the NFL in American football, they (have been) doing it for quite a long time. It seems that the referees are pretty comfortable with this," he pointed out.
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