S2 SCORE with theSun JUNE 14, 2018

Livingona prayer

Full kit for videorefs VAR (Video Assistant Refereeing) refs at the World Cup will wear the full kit in Russia – despite being in a room no-one can see. The VAR system is set to make its debut at the WorldCup after being trialled in competitions across the globe. It can be used in four scenarios – after a goal has been scored, for penalty decisions, red carddecisions or for a case of mistaken identity of a player who has been booked or sent off. The calls aremade in a secret location inMoscow, often miles from the stadiums, by top level refs. And, somewhat bizarrely, those refs will have to wear the full kit – including top, shorts and socks – de- spite being in an office. Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, explained: “I was asked why the VARs would have to wear a referees’ kit. It’s because they sweat like they do on the pitch, it’s not like watching a game on the couch while drinking coffee. “It’s about avoidingmajor and obvious mistakes, not refereeing with technology, the goal has never been to check every minor incident.” There are 35 referees on duty for the World Cup whowill alternatebetweendoinggames on thepitch and in the VAR centre. There will then be another 13 referees who offici- ate exclusively watching the control screens in the Video Operations Room. Discussing how the system will work, Roberto Rosetti, in charge of VAR for FIFA, said: “There will be four video officials. Themain VAR communicates with the central referee and can suggest whether he should come and check footage “The VAR assistant No.1 follows the match live, the No.2 deals specifically with offsides and a third assistant is responsible for supporting themain VAR, to verify the respect of protocol and ensure good communication between the team.” There will be two additional cameras used at the World Cup, exclusively dedicated to offside deci- sions. Sebastian Runge, head of FIFA’s Technology In- novation Group, said these will be “installed at a height to reinforce an area that, despite the 33 cameras used by broadcasters, was not covered optimally”. – Express Newspapers ‘VARwill help’ DESPITE lingering doubts about the use of video assistant referee (VAR) in Russia, FIFA’s refereeing bosses insisted yesterday that it will help – not hinder – officiating at theWorld Cup. The VAR systemhas been the source of confusing decisions and longdelays while situations arechecked during testing in both the German Bundesliga and Serie A. FIFAdirector of refereesMassimoBusacca admits the system has been rushed in for the World Cup, but insistsofficials are readyandVARwill help referees make better decisions in Russia. “We ran very fast getting it ready, but we are convinced of it,” said Busacca at a press conference inMoscow. “We are ready, we know we must be ready as there can be no experiments here.” Busacca compared the VAR to the teams vying for the trophy in Russia. “It’s likea teamwhodidn’t playwell beforeaWorld Cup, made mistakes but now plays much better,” said the Swiss ex-ref. “Nonational teamarrives at theWorldCupperfect - it’s the same for us. We know that we have to im- prove.” Busacca believes delays while situations are checked are worth the sacrifice for lowering the risk of wrongly-awarded goals. He also said controversial scenes will be replayed on screens at the World Cup stadiums so fans can see why decisions were reached. Pierluigi Collina, when interviewed, side-stepped the question whether referees had been specifically briefed to halt games – or even order the teams off – if, as feared, there are racist incidents in Russia. “There is a three-step procedure and they are ready to go through with it if need be,” said Colli- na. The ‘Three-step procedure’ means if there is a racist or discriminatory chanting, the referee can pause thematch to request an announcement asking for the chanting to stop. If it persists, the ref can suspend the match and request another announcement, then wait until the chanting stops, but if it still does not cease, he can abandon the game. – AFP

expected tobewatchedbyPresident Vladimir Putin in the stadiumwhich will also host the July 15 final. Putin himself has high hopes the team can lift fans with some good showings, although he accepts the signs have not givenmuch cause for optimism. “As regards the national team, I have to acknowledge that, sadly, our team has not enjoyed great results lately,” he said in an interview last week. “But we, all the fans and football loversinRussia,havehighhopesthat our teamwill make a good showing, play a modern, interesting and beautiful styleof football, and fight to the finish.” Un d e r c o a c h S t a n i s l a v Cherchesov, the home teamwill be hoping toavoid the fateof 2010hosts South Africa in failing to reach the last 16 in a group which sees Egypt play Uruguay in Yekaterinburg tomorrow. Former keeper Cherchesov, who took the job after Russia’s exit without awin at Euro 2016, has had a tough task in making the hosts a contenderafterhisteamalsofailedto impress at last year’sConfederations Cup. However, there have been signs of improvement, with fans also rallying around the squad in the run uptotheWorldCupdespitealackof recent victories. “We have a more positive image than we used to have,” Cherchesov tolddpa in a recent interview. “We became a team.Weworked on our mentality, and now we can really step on the gas.” The Saudis are meanwhile back at their fifth World Cup, having missed the last two editions, and confident of a good showing, led by former Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi. Pizzi was in Russia with Chile at last year’s Confederations Cup but steppeddowninOctoberafterfailing to get theCopaAmerica champions to theWorldCup. Just over a month later he took over the Saudi team after the dismissal of fellow Argentinian EdgardoBauza. – dpa

Russiahopes rather thanexpects amiracleaheadofopeneragainst Saudi Arabia today T HE WorldCupfinallykicks off today with a whimper rather than a bang when hosts Russia play Saudi Arabia – at least if you go by FIFArankings. The Group A game inMoscow’s Luzhniki Stadium sees the two lowest-ranked sides in the 32-team tournament up against each other. Russia are the lowest rated at 70th, while Saudi Arabia are not much better at 67th – hardly a meeting to set the pulses racing for neutrals. Of course, rankings are no parameter and big names are no guarantee of thrills. Nerves have often got the better of teams in opening matches, and when World Cup holders had the honour of playing the first games there have been upsets – the last in 2002 when France were beaten 1-0 by Senegal. Since then it has

been a job for the hosts, and so far none have lost their opener.

For the sake of themood in the tournament

h o s t country, R u s s i a will be

keen to a v o i d t h a t fate in a match

Juan Antonio Pizzi. Thehost is 100%ready for theWorldCup

body amid corruption investigations and the departure of long-time head JosephBlatter in December 2015. It was the 2010 FIFA executive committee vote for hosts Russia for 2018 and Qatar for 2022 which prompted allegations of vote buying which dogged FIFA at the last World Cup and which have led to widespread governance reforms. Russia has also faced scrutiny over issues including doping, security and racism at matches, andInfantinoandtheorganiserswill be hoping these do not blight a tournament reported to have cost more than € 10 billion(RM47b). On the risk of hooliganism after Russian fanswere involved inviolence at Euro 2016 in France, Infantino said: “Every fan that is coming to Russia will be welcome in a safe environment to celebrate. “If anyone is thinking to come toRussia to create trouble, he better stay home.” Security will be high in the 11 host cities, with the fear of a terrorist attackalways in the minds of organisers. It is undoubtedly a prestige project for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has asked the nation’s police force to operate “tactfully and carefully” during the tournament. Russia is going out of its way tomake fans welcome, with amandatory fan IDacting as a

visa and allowing, along with a match ticket, free rail transport between venues. Fan festival zones are opening in all the WorldCupcities,andMoscow’swasattended by some 40,000 people on its opening on Sunday, organisers said. On the field of play, theWorld Cup debut of the video assistant video review (VAR) system is bound to be a talking point after controversy and no little confusion have marked its use in various competitions so far. With most of the 736 players – from the oldest, keeperEssamEl-Hadaryof Egypt at 45 years and five months, to the youngest, AustraliawingerDanielArzani,at19yearsand fivemonths – already in Russia excitement is mounting ahead of today’s kickoff. An opening ceremony featuring pop star Robbie Williams and Russian soprano Aida Garifullinawill herald a tournament inwhich world champions Germany are seeking their first successful title defence and record champions Brazil are out to lift a sixthWorld Cup. The World Cup atmosphere will meanwhile be helped by a good showing by hosts Russia, the lowest ranked squad at the tournament, while a surprise or two can be expected – perhaps from the twoWorld Cup debutants Iceland and Panama – when the AdidasTelstar 18ball begins tohit the backof the net. – dpa


WORKERS werebusyhammeringandsawing at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium as Russia continued gearing up for today’s start of football’sWorldCup. But unlike Brazil four years ago, this was not a frenzied last-minute effort to get stadiumsandinfrastructurereadyontime,but merely the erection of stalls for the sale of stadiummerchandising. For football world governing body FIFA, theWorld Cup in Russia is in good hands as kickoff approaches. All 12 stadiums – some new, others modernised – are ready and there have been no organisational problems which caused such headaches in 2014. Russia is “100%readyand thewholeworld will actually see itwhenwe kickoff on June 14 with Russia and Saudi Arabia in the Luzhniki Stadium,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in a video interview. The World Cup will also change perceptions of Russia, he believes. “People will see Russia as a different country: as a country that is welcoming the world, as a country that is festive, thatwants tocelebrate, thatwants to be open,” he said. The tournament is the first for Infantinoas FIFA president, with the the four years since Brazilalsowitnessingvastchangeattheruling

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