More information for the spectators in stadia and on television screens, plus additional certainty through the use of a calibrated offside line: the best-possible transparency is set to further improve the acceptance of video assistants in the 2018/19 Bundesliga season. The new changes will apply starting from the 2018 Super Cup final between DFB Cup winners Eintracht Frankfurt and Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, which will take place this Sunday (12 August, 20:30 CET).
In the future, clubs will receive concise textual explanations directly from the Video Assist Center (VAC) in Cologne to display on the big screens in their stadium. This will exclusively apply to refereeing decisions that are subject to a review. Their use by the stadium management of the clubs will keep the spectators informed about which of the four intervention options by the video assistant (scoring of a goal, penalty, red card, player identification error) is the reason for a check and what the final decision of the referee on the pitch is. The same information will be made available for spectators via the so-called TV base signal as graphics, which may be used optionally by the media partners.
An analysis of the use of video assistants at the 2018 World Cup in Russia was taken into account for the measures. Regarding the World Cup statistics and the experiences from the 2017/18 Bundesliga, especially the second half of the season, the figures show a comparable level. In the 64 games at the World Cup, an average of 0.31 inventions per game were registered by the video assistants. In the 2017/18 Bundesliga campaign, it was 0.29 in 306 matches and only 0.25 per game in the second half of the season. A review lasted 80 seconds on average in Russia; 57 in the Bundesliga, 53 in the second half of the season.
Regarding the reasons for the improvements in the second half of the Bundesliga season, the DFB Head of Referees Lutz Michael Fröhlich said: "The division of responsibilities between the referee as the decision-maker on the pitch and the video assistant as additional support was further specified in the winter break. The latter role exclusively applies to clear and obvious wrong decisions. The search for mistakes is no longer conducted so meticulously, which had led to a significantly higher number of checks." Ansgar Schwenken, the DFL Director of Football Affairs & Supporters and a member of the DFL Executive Committee, said: "Of the steps now completed, which are to be continually improved upon, we're expecting effects that include an even stronger acceptance of the video assistant, which represented a completely new element that required some getting used to for the fans last season."
The successful use of the offside line at the World Cup is regarded by the DFL and the DFB as a stamp of approval for use in the Bundesliga, especially as the German video assistants active in Russia deemed the offside line to a very effective tool. On an additional note, the same system ("hawk eye") that was used at the World Cup will be used in the Bundesliga. Optimal technical alignments to be implemented individually for each Bundesliga match and an in-depth knowledge of the rules on the part of video assistants, even in situations that are difficult to assess, provide the best-possible basis for the use of the calibrated offside line. Once the Bundesliga is back underway, further support will be provided in particularly hard-to-call situations from a 3D version of the offside line. In the event of a review of an offside situation by the video assistant, a graphic with an offside line will be displayed in the TV base signal.
Another new feature is the referee radio by the brand "Riedel", which will optimise communication with the video assistant. The globally active company from Wuppertal have long-standing experience in matters relating to communication technology in sport, having supplied Formula One with "Riedel" systems for many years − this includes the radio transmission between drivers and the pit − and provided the technical equipment for the overall organisation of the Olympic Games.
Following a two-year test period, which was already practised "online" in the Bundesliga last season, the video assistant will now be officially deployed in all 306 Bundesliga matches. The corresponding decision was made by the Bundesliga clubs at the DFL members' meeting on 22 March 2018. About a fortnight earlier, on 3 March 2018, approval was granted by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which is responsible for the rules of football in effect around the world.
For the 2. Bundesliga, "offline" tests were completed by the clubs in the 2018/19 season. As part of this process, 70 potential candidates − among them officials from the pool of referees in the 2. Bundesliga and the 3. Bundesliga − are currently being trained for the role of video assistant at the VAC. This measure will not initially be deployed live in 2. Bundesliga matches. But the 18 clubs will take a vote regarding the introduction of video assistants in the 2. Bundesliga ahead of the 2019/20 season. That is expected to take place at the next DFL members' meeting at the end of the year.