German referee Zwayer to test video technology in international friendly | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 28.03.2017
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German referee Zwayer to test video technology in international friendly

When Felix Zwayer referees the friendly between France and Spain in Paris, he will become the first German to have a video assistant to fall back on. The system is to be introduced in the Bundesliga next season.

Felix Zwayer's video assistant on Tuesday evening will be another German referee, Tobias Stieler, who will follow the action from a van parked outside of the Stade de France in Paris. Seiler will be in radio communication with Zwayer and his assistants on the pitch, so that he can advise them of any major wrong calls they may make during the match.

"It is really something special to be the first German to referee an official match involving a video assistant," Zwayer, who supports the new system, told a German sports broadcaster "Sport1."

"The pressure is constantly increasing. The speed of the game is increasing, the players are stronger, and there are few breaks in play. We have to make very difficult decisions."

Still, the influence of the video assistant will be quite limited, with Stieler only allowed to make decisions on whether or not a goal should be awarded, whether or not a penalty should be given, a straight red card, or if he sees that the referee on the pitch has sanctioned the wrong player.

"I am convinced that my live-experience will be valuable in preparing all of the referees for the first season of video assistants in the Bundesliga," Stieler said.

Testing phase in the Bundesliga

Since the start of the current season, the Bundesliga has been testing the technology on match weekends from a central "replay center" in Cologne. There, video assistants have been reviewing decisions made by referees in the four categories allowed, however they have not been in contact with the officials on the field and therefore have not been able to influence decisions. This is to change for next season.

The technology has already been used - with the full participation of the assistants - at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan and last November's friendly between Italy and Germany, which ended in a scoreless draw.

Although he is a supporter of the technology, Zwayer has sought to play down fans' expectations.

"It won't completely eliminate wrong decisions," Zwayer said. "There will still be penalty decisions, where one person will say that it was too harsh and another will say it was deserved."

The technology itself is not perfect either, with some "live tests" running into problems with the radio signal. However, Zwayer said that on average, the time to correct a decision has been getting shorter.

"Sometimes it has been done in 12-15 seconds, sometimes it has taken longer," he said.

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