Nicola Rizzoli says Video Assistant Referees brought “great calm” this weekend, but admits “some mistakes were made”.
The VAR review system was debuted in Week 1 of Serie A and had a mixed debut, with praise for several correct decisions but an error which saw Torino have a goal disallowed.
“I’d like to point out a very positive aspect which shouldn’t be discounted for anything,” designator Rizzoli said in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Players, Coaches, directors and the fans accepted the changing of some decisions with great calm, and that can only be good for football.
“We’re still in the early stages, we need to oil the mechanisms but one of the goals of the technology - perhaps the most important one - is to return to a better, more relaxed climate, suitable for families.
“If VAR contributes to this cultural change then we’re on the right track. In Turin and Crotone, two decisions were rightly changed against the home team and there was no controversy.
“It’s always possible to improve, especially in the face of something new. We must all contribute to make a leap in quality.
“We’re in a transition phase, we’ve been working for about two months to find the right fit. I’m not going to hide it, some mistakes were made.
“It took too long to control the actions and that slowed the game down. Getting the right replay was more tense than expected in some cases.
“It takes patience, the technical people will also get faster. But look, the goal is to do better and have more and more decisions from the referee and less and less from the VAR.
“Football has its own speed, and breaking it up too much would make it less beautiful. The VAR serves to avoid decisive mistakes, preserving the regularity of the result.
“That’s why it only applies if there’s a serious error, let’s not use it for every action.
“Fiorentina’s penalty claim at Inter? Paolo [Tagliavento] could have gone to the monitor but it wouldn’t have changed the decision.
“That contact can be interpreted in a subjective way, so therefore it’s not a clear incident, a condition which is essential in the use of the technology.
“In the eyes of the viewers though, the fact that the referee is on the pitch controlling the replay is more reassuring. Because he’s the one who decides, not the VAR.
“As I’ve explained, Tagliamento couldn’t view the replay because he didn’t think the contact was worthy of punishment, and the VAR judged that he hadn’t made a clear mistake.
“It’s all provided for in the protocol, on the subject of whether certain situations might be appropriate to review we’ll talk about it and take our experiences on board.
“We’re at the beginning and there could be some bumps in the road here too, but what we’ll never have is a lack of respect.
“The Torino goal? That was a mistake. Then, of course, the technology requires a minimum of awareness. On goals you’re obliged to view the replays.
“The assistant can and must wait for the game to develop in the penalty box and, after the action has been completed, raise the flag.
“It’s the same for the referee, if he whistles he can’t use the technology anymore. It’s expected from the protocol that you’d check if the whistle comes before the goal, but I repeat: that was a mistake which we mustn’t make.”
Rizzoli then discussed a number of frequently asked questions about the VAR system, starting with whether the game would stop if the system broke.
“Absolutely not, we’d continue with the traditional method.
“Will referees explain decisions directly [as in NFL]? At the moment that’s not foreseen, as we can’t disclose every conversation between the referee and the VAR.
“There’s the utmost co-operation in terms of transparency though, we’ll ask the television to immediately broadcast the replay used by the referees.
“Doing it in the stadium is more complicated though, as not everyone is equipped for it. It’s also not ruled-out that in future we could talk after a game, but President [of the AIA, Marcello] Nicchi will decide.”
Asking for the VAR is a bookable offence, but Milan’s Leonardo Bonucci asked for the video to be consulted against Crotone, leading to a red card, why is that?
“That captain has the authority to speak to the referee,” Rizzoli explained.
“Moreover, we invite them to. If you do it calmly and in the right way then you’ll get all the answers.
“So it’s normal for a captain to ask for explanations, while it’s unsporting to ask for the VAR, just like asking for your opponent to be booked.
“Gigi Buffon promoted the technology after a penalty was awarded against Juventus? He did more, as a true captain he steered his teammates away, contributing decisively to the atmosphere.
“That deserves our applause.”