Dortmund Bayern Munich
Gonzalo Castro of Borussia Dortmund and Thiago Alcantara of Bayern Munich compete for the ball during DFL Supercup 2016 at Signal Iduna Park on Aug. 14, 2016 in Dortmund, Germany. Hardt/Bongarts/Getty Images

One of Europe's top-flight soccer leagues, Bundesliga, is the latest to try out video assistants, carrying out a successful debut Friday. Video assistance hasn’t been there to correct wrong calls made by referees, but the German league is now trying to change that with new video technology.

“For the first time in Bundesliga history, the referee will be able to call on a video assistant referee to assist in decision-making, giving every match officials extra support on the pitch,” the league announced.

The league said the 23 referees from last season will serve as video assistant officials who will call out offside goals and other incidents. Video assistants will monitor games and will only intervene when it is clear a wrong decision has been made in four situations: goals, penalties, red cards and mistaken identities.

The video assistants check the cameras and share their findings with the head referee by radio. The referee on the field then has three options: leave the decision made unchanged, accept the suggestion or watch the situation again on the screen. Ultimately, the head referee has the final say during games.


When looking at goals, video assistants will alert the referee if there was a foul, handball or is the goal was offside.

Red Cards

Using video footage, assistant referees will be able to assess whether red cards were justified or not. Video assistants will also tell the head referee when unprofessional conduct has taken place behind his back, like cursing and fighting.


Video assistants will advise head referees during penalty situations, analyzing whether a penalty is justified or not after the whistle, and whether a penalty should be given if the referee didn't make the call.


When it comes to yellow and red cards, video assistants will confirm that a card was not given to the wrong player, since head referees cannot see all situations unfold and can’t always pinpoint who was rough with whom.

MLS And FIFA World Cup 2018

The U.S.'s Major League Soccer began using video assistant referees (VAR) earlier this month, making it one of the first league’s in the world to implement the technology on the pitch. Since the debut of VARS there have been three goals disallowed after the head referee look at video replays, the MLS said. Like Bundesliga, the final decision always stands with the head referee.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino confirmed video assistants will be used in next year’s World Cup, which will be held in Russia. The addition of the technology could help curb wrong calls, which have often sparked controversies.

In the 2014 World Cup, referees awarded penalty kicks during situations in which they shouldn’t have, and also disallowed goals that were valid. In a single match between Mexico and Cameroon, two clean goals were disallowed by the assistant referee. The U.S. also saw a disallowed goal during its match against Slovenia in the 2010 World Cup. If the goal had been allowed, the U.S. may have won the game, but instead settled for a draw.

"It should that not happen that, in 2017, almost everyone in the stadium or at home will see in seconds if the referee made a mistake, and the only one who can not see is the referee,'' said Infantino, according to Brazil’s O Globo.