By Richard Martin
MADRID (Reuters) - La Liga will introduce video assistant referees (VAR) from next season, joining the top flight leagues in Germany and Italy in using the system, Spain's soccer federation (RFEF) announced on Wednesday.
VAR involves assistant referees watching the action remotely and then drawing the match referee's attention to officiating mistakes or missed serious incidents.
"The president of the referee's committee, D. Victoriano Sanchez Arminio, has informed all the referees and assistant referees in the Primera Division that next season VAR will be implemented in the national league championship," said a statement from the RFEF.
"He also announced that the tests demanded by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to bring the VAR system into use will begin shortly."
Spain’s La Liga is the only one of Europe’s top five leagues which has so far shunned the use of goalline technology, often to the frustration of its teams.
While the only use of goalline technology is to determine whether the ball has completely crossed the goalline, VAR can be used to determine goals, red cards, penalties as well as cases of mistaken identity.
Last season Barcelona were not awarded a goal despite television replays showing the ball had crossed the line during a 1-1 draw with Real Betis.
On the opening day of this season, two other incidents also reignited the debate about the introduction of technology.
Sevilla defender Clement Lenglet’s goal against Espanyol was allowed to stand despite replays confirming the ball had not crossed the line, while Getafe were denied a goal against Athletic Bilbao even though Jorge Molina’s strike appeared to have gone over the line.
There has been a recent shift in favour of technology from the federation and the league's organising body.
Acting president Juan Luis Larrea said in October the technology would be implemented from the next campaign, while a day before the official announcement on Wednesday La Liga president Javier Tebas said negotiations to implement VAR were at an advanced stage.
"Once an incident occurs the referee or his assistants recommend the use of VAR, and the action is revised by the video assistants and the referee then takes a decision based on the result of the analysis of the video," added the RFEF statement.
"The tool will prove very useful to Spanish football."
The VAR system is being used in a number of competitions on a trial basis before football's rule-making body IFAB decides next year whether to approve its use on a permanent basis.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has already said he wants to use it at the 2018 World Cup.
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)