In March, FIFA confirmed the use of VAR — video assistant referees — for the 2019 Women’s World Cup, something it really had to do after its successful implementation at the 2019 men’s World Cup.
On Thursday, FIFA named the 15 video assistant referees who will man the booths at this summer’s Women’s World Cup — and we do mean man.
All 15 VAR picks are men.
— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) May 2, 2019
The 2019 Women’s World Cup will have 74 female referees (27 center refs and 47 assistant refs), but all 15 video assistant referees will be male.
While you’d think FIFA would want to include all women VARs with its all-women referee cast, there is some sense behind the decision. Men’s leagues, for the most part refereed by men, have wider implementation of VAR compared to women’s leagues currently.
Ideally, women’s leagues would have wide-spread use of VAR and a large pool of VARs to choose from, but that isn’t currently the case. FIFA choosing qualified, experienced VARs who happen to be men is probably better for the competition than women who lack experience.
Of the 15 VARs selected, 10 were at the 2018 men’s World Cup.
“Following the historic implementation of VAR at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia last summer, we were determined to do our utmost to ensure that VAR was also implemented in the women’s game,” said Zvonimir Boban, deputy secretary general of football on FIFA’s website.
“In order to achieve this goal, for the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 we selected the most experienced VARs in the world. Once again, VAR will be part of a remarkable project as it will unite women and men referees in what we are certain will be a successful tournament.”
VARs will be used in the same way as they were for the men’s World Cup, with video replay used only in four potentially game-changing instances: goals, penalties, red cards and cases of mistaken identity.
For more on the Women’s World Cup, read our complete guide here or check out the schedule here. You can also see who coach Jill Ellis picked for the 23-woman USWNT World Cup roster here, after it was released on Thursday.