The video assistant referee (VAR) system is expected to be introduced in Spain next season. Photo: Alejandro Garcia/EPA

MADRID – La Liga began training officials in the video assistant referee (VAR) system on Friday ahead of the technology's expected introduction next season.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has announced it is seeking approval from the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to roll out VAR in La Liga at the start of the 2018-19 campaign.

IFAB will meet in Zurich this weekend to decide whether VAR should also be used during the World Cup in Russia this summer.

“From this Friday, March 2, the La Liga First Division referees and assistant referees will begin the offline phase of their technical training,” the RFEF wrote in a statement. “This training will not have any impact at all on the refereeing of these games.”

VAR is already active in the top divisions in both Italy and Germany, while in England it has been used on a trial basis this season in selected domestic cup games.

The system is supposed to correct only “clear and obvious” errors, regarding decisions on goals, red cards, penalties and cases of mistaken identity. 

Its implementation has proven controversial, however. Players and managers have complained of referees being too eager to defer to technology, while fans in stadiums have been left in the dark as to why decisions are being made.

On 26 October, RFEF acting President Juan Luis Larrea said unofficial experiments would be carried out in about 70 matches this season.

Refereering controversies regularly arise in La Liga. Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde complained on Thursday about an “invisible penalty” awarded to Las Palmas during the match that ended 1-1.