David Dein announces ground-breaking Video Assistant Refereeing as Soccerex Exclusive on Day 2 of Forum.
6th December 2016 – Doha, Qatar: The Soccerex Asian Forum 2016 has concluded in Doha following two days of high-level discussion and networking between the world’s key industry decision makers. Ensuring that football keeps up with the digital age was high on the agenda on day 2 of the Forum with expert insight from David Dein and representatives from LaLiga.
Former Arsenal and English Football Association Chairman, David Dein, was the undoubted highlight of the day two providing an engaging presentation about the future of football. Dein, who was instrumental in the creation of the English Premier League, spoke about the importance of the digital age, with premierleague.com having grown to 15 million monthly users and overseas followers growing stronger and stronger. He also spoke about the growth of the women’s game in the UK with over 1 million women and girls now playing football and 45,000 people watching a women’s game at Wembley, as well as how independent time-keeping is now high on FIFA’s schedule to ensure 100% certainty that referees are keeping the right time. However, it was his announcement that Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) is currently being trialled by FIFA that was the most ground-breaking news to come out of the 2-day Forum. Dein said:
“I’ve had 30 years at the top of the game and every time I wake up in the morning, I think how can we drive the game forward, how can we make it better? VAR is the next extension to goal line technology. The Video Assistant Referee is being trialed by FIFA and will only be used for game changing incidents. In the next couple of years I believe we will see VAR being introduced which will assist referees immensely."
The impact of the digital age was also stressed in a panel session focusing on the success of LaLiga’s Internationalisation. LaLiga has a TV audience of 1.2 billion, the best players in the world and the most successful clubs in Europe. Managing Director for International Development, Vicente Casado, spoke about the importance of having worldwide offices to have a presence around the world, searching for players for the future and developing the future of the organisation. He also spoke about the importance of keeping up with current trends and explained how LaLiga’s partnership with Microsoft is crucial to this. He said:
“The fans want an experience and 90 minutes is not enough. We need to provide a digital online experience for fans that carries on and off the pitch. Our partnership with Microsoft is one of the biggest things we have done for our future. We are working to develop the online experience for our fans and being partnered with a worldwide known brand like Microsoft will only make this stronger moving forward. Today the world is very fast and we need to be fast and stay up with the current trends. More traffic, more information - the objective is to be a global reference.”
Day 2 of the Forum also continued to look at the growth of football in Asia and the Middle East, a strong theme from day 1, through a panel session moderated by Trevor Watkins, the Global Head of Sport at Pinsent Masons. Presidential Candidate for the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, Adel Ezzat, discussed the Chinese model for football growth, where they bring high profile players to their local leagues and buy clubs in Europe, and how this could help football in the GCC. He said: