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FIFA president Giovanni Infantino says VAR 'substantially' improved

FIFA president Giovanni Infantino has told ESPN FC that video assistant referee (VAR) technology is improving, indicating that he believes it should be used at the World Cup.

Infantino said he had been "sceptical" about the technology, which attracted criticism in its early use, but added that statistics showed it was helping to get more decisions right.

He added that although "it has its critics," he believed tests carried out in match situations had been "extremely positive."

Speaking to ESPN FC's Gabriel Marcotti, Infantino said: "I was very sceptical of VAR and we had to make the decision on whether we test it one week after my election.

"While I was sceptical, I was also thinking that if we don't test it we will never know if it really works or not. Knowing the refs' hard job, knowing we have something that could help them, then we should be doing it.

"So for the past two years we've been doing tests online and offline. In almost 1,000 matches, real matches in real situations, the results are extremely positive.

"We moved from 93 percent correct decisions to 98.9 percent correct decisions.

"OK, we don't have 100 percent but we increased it quite substantially. It has its critics, but we will never solve all the problems.

"If there's a handball in the penalty area, you can have 100 different opinions with or without VAR. What VAR does is it allows the referee to correct a clearly wrong decision.

"I don't think in 2018 we can afford to have the World Cup decided potentially by a clearly wrong decision by a referee.

Infantino's comments come after a series of problems with the introduction of VAR technology, with Bundesliga players expressing dissatisfaction about it.

Its use in an FA Cup tie between Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion saw two of referee Craig Pawson's decisions overturned in the first half, sparking scenes of confusion as Liverpool were beaten 3-2.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said he felt the use of VAR would "become a little smoother, more fluent in the future," but West Brom counterpart Alan Pardew criticised the amount of time taken over decisions.

And last week, a giant flag in the stand prevented VAR technology from being used to make a ruling on a goal in a Portuguese game between Boavista and Aves.

Last month, FIFA chief commercial officer Philippe Le Floc'h told The Associated Press video replays would be used at the World Cup for the first time.

"Definitely VAR will happen," Le Floc'h said. "It's great to have technology in football because this is also a fair[ness] thing."

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