FIFA's Infantino wants video assistance at 2018 World Cup

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MOSCOW (AP) — Video replays could be used at the 2018 World Cup, new FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Tuesday.

The International Football Association Board, which sets soccer's rules, approved trials of video assistance last month.

Calling the technology "something that everyone was waiting for," Infantino said it could be used on the sport's biggest stage almost as soon as those experiments come to an end.

"This test period will start now, will take two years. This will mean that by March 2018 we will see if it works or not," Infantino said.

"We will know in time and I hope that Russia 2018 will be the first World Cup where the referees will be a helped a little bit by video technology."

Tests initially will be in private before moving to a live pilot phase with replay assistance by the 2017-18 season at the latest, IFAB ruled last month.

The use of video will be restricted to referees ruling whether a goal has been scored, a penalty should be awarded and a player should be sent off as well as cases of mistaken identity. A large multi-camera operation will be required for games where video assistance is used.

Infantino also defended Russia's human rights record in his first visit to the 2018 World Cup host nation since taking charge of FIFA, saying the country was "open and welcoming."

The visit came a week after a human rights report by Harvard professor John Ruggie, commissioned by FIFA, raised concerns about Russia's law prohibiting gay "propaganda" and the treatment of migrant workers.

"FIFA is not the world welfare agency but we have to be responsible about these things, we have to be responsible about the position we take about human rights," Infantino said when asked about Ruggie's concerns.

"We have to address all the issues and I think that these events give the opportunity to speak about topics which maybe are not pleasant, which maybe sometimes are not directly linked."

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who was sitting beside Infantino, defended the gay propaganda law, saying that "no one has been persecuted, no one is persecuted."

Infantino pointed to Mutko and said: "Your answer, straight and direct. Welcome, it's an open and welcoming country."

Infantino began his tour Tuesday with a visit to Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, which is undergoing a major rebuild to be ready for the World Cup final.

Infantino looked over the construction site of the 81,000-seat stadium with Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin and gave a double thumbs-up gesture. While the pitch area is still sand, criss-crossed by construction machinery, the basic concrete structure of the stands is in place.

The new FIFA president is on a four-day tour of Russia and Qatar, the host of the 2022 World Cup.

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