Women’s World Cup: Ex-England striker wants male referees to help over VAR

FIFA logo used to illustrate the story
FIFA logo used to illustrate the story

World football governing body FIFA should bring in experienced male officials to help female referees adjust to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, says former England striker Sue Smith.

Smith told Reuters on Thursday that it became necessary following a number of incidents at the women’s World Cup.

With VAR being used for the first time in women’s football at the 24-team tournament in France, many games have had more than 10 minutes of stoppage time.

The long stoppage time being as a result of the delay over checks made by officials who are not familiar with the system.

Referees in the men’s game were able to get to grips with VAR at the 2017 Confederations Cup before last year’s World Cup in Russia and as well from some domestic leagues across Europe.

FIFA have had a female only rule for referees in the women’s game since 1995.

However, Smith said that rule should change to aid the rapid development of officiating.

“I’m all for mixing male officials with female officials,” Smith, a commentator for the BBC at the World Cup, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“In my opinion it should have been done for this tournament, just to help out. As the football’s getting better and developing I also think that needs to develop.

“They need help, they need training, and while they’re getting that, bring in whoever is best for the job whether it’s male or female.”

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Other former Lionesses such as Faye White and Casey Stoney also called for male referees after criticism of Qin Liang’s officiating in England’s 3-0 quarter-final win over Cameroon.

FIFA said there were no immediate plans to change their rule.

Smith highlighted Friday’s quarter-final between France and holders the United States as the pick of the round – and tipped the hosts to upset the odds.

“I’d love to say England (in the final) and I probably should say England but if I was putting money I would for France-Germany.T”would be my final,” she said.

Neither France nor England, who face Norway in the quarter-finals, have ever contested a World Cup final.

Germany won back-to-back tournaments in 2003 and 2007.

The semi-final line-ups will be known on Saturday after Italy have faced European champions the Netherlands and Germany have met Sweden. (Reuters/NAN)

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