MAJOR trials are taking place all over the world this season, with VARs (video assistant referees), which FIFA are determined to use then in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

As part of this, some countries are already using VARs in their top domestic leagues including Germany, Italy and the MLS in North America.

Howard Webb, the former Premier League and world No. 1 referee, has joined the Professional Referees Organisation of the MLS as manager of video review operations.

I was lucky enough to watch a televised media presentation he made to sports writers in the USA, in which he made it very clear what they are intending to achieve.

VARs will not be checking every decision a referee makes, he said, as that would be impossible as they make so many in the course of a game.

Their aim is maximum benefit but minimum interference.

They will only be involved in four areas – goals, penalty kicks, red cards and mistaken identity. There has to be a clear and obvious error before the VAR will alert the referee and only in an attacking phase of play.

The VAR will speak to the referee over their match officials radio system.

The referee will signal, by putting his fingers over his earpiece, so everyone will know that there is a query.

He will then make the signal, already used in other sports, of a square representing a television, before going to the touchline monitor to see for himself the incident being queried.

The final decision (as always) remains with the referee. The only time he probably won’t bother to look is if it is something simple, such as the ball has gone out of play.

A lot of fans are worried about how long this will all take, but Webb said they had timed it over 50 games and the added time went up from one minute 25 seconds to two minutes 42 seconds.

Let’s hope Webb is involved in the training of World Cup referees when the time comes around.