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Video replays not intended to wipe out all refereeing mistakes

Jun 4, 2016; Pasadena, CA, USA; Brazil manager Dunga sits on the bench before a game against Ecuador during the group play stage of the 2016 Copa America Centenario at Rose Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 4, 2016; Pasadena, CA, USA; Brazil manager Dunga sits on the bench before a game against Ecuador during the group play stage of the 2016 Copa America Centenario at Rose Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

By Brian Homewood

ZURICH (Reuters) - Dunga might still be coach of Brazil if video replay technology had been used at the Copa America in June.

The goal which gave Peru a 1-0 win over Brazil and eliminated the five-times world champions was a clear example of where the technology could avoid a glaring mistake, according to former international referee David Elleray.

In a replay of the incident, Elleray pointed out that it was clear Raul Ruidiaz controlled Andy Polo's cross with his hand before turning the ball into the net.

But match officials were unable to spot the infringement, despite a four-minute consultation and even though the referee sensed something was wrong, said Elleray, the technical director of soccer's law-making body IFAB.

Dunga was sacked days later and replaced by Tite, who ironically has overseen a turnaround in Brazil's fortunes.

In March, IFAB approved a two-year trial of a system in which a so-called Video Assistant Referee (VAR), with access to replays, helps the match officials review key decisions.

Australia, Brazil, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United States have all been conducting tests.

Elleray emphasised that the technology was not intended to be used for every contentious decision.

"It's not about getting 100 per cent (of) decisions right because that will turn football into American football, stop-start-stop-start-stop-start," he told Reuters after an IFAB workshop.

"It isn't designed to end referee mistakes but it's to deal with those very clear match-changing ones and football needs to realise that.

"We do not want to disrupt the essential flow and emotion of football. We don't want to be interfering every two or three minutes.

"We want to deal with a Thierry Henry clear unfairness, the clear mistakes which have a big impact on the game," he added referring to the infamous France goal which took them to the 2010 World Cup at the expense of Ireland.

Replays would be used to decide on so-called "factual" matters, such as where an incident took place, mistaken identity or whether a player had used his hand, but not on decisions which required interpretation, such as whether or not a player had dived.

Elleray also stressed that the match referee, who always has the final word, can only ask for an incident to be reviewed once he has made a decision.

In simpler cases, he accepts the VAR's verdict but he can also review the incident himself on a pitchside monitor.

"We want the referee review area to be visible so he doesn't disappear down a dark tunnel," he added.

Players would be banned from this area and those who drew a pretend television in the air to demand a review would be booked, he added.

Elleray said that mastering the system was far more complicated than it looked and the guidelines for officials already ran to 60 pages.

"People think it is very easy," he said. "Some people think we can decide tomorrow to have video replays in matches and it would just involve getting a few people to sit and watch the match and give the referee a call on the mobile, telling him he got it wrong."

(Editing by Rex Gowar)

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