Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

VAR in different Countries: The worst and most difficult moments of this season

Posted on 5 March 2018 by José Bourbon

The past few days have brought us new developments in which VAR concerns: La Liga have confirmed the introduction of VAR next season and the technology was approved by the International Football Association Board – the organization that regulates the football laws. As a consequence, there is a high probability of VAR being used next summer in the World Cup, in Russia, as Gianni Infantino – FIFA President – supports the use of this technology. Although the official and final decision will be taken March 16th.

However, In England, the discussion about VAR is far from finished and can even be more durable than expected, after last Friday The New York Times has revealed Premier League might delay its introduction one more year (2019/2020).

In the meantime, Sports Gazette decided to add more fuel to the fire and make a compilation of the most difficult, strange and unbelievable moments of VAR this season, in different leagues.

Boavista VS Desportivo de Aves – When a Flag prevents VAR from acting

It’s probably the most unbelievable moment this season in which VAR concerns. The match is for the Portuguese first division – known as LIGA NOS – between Boavista and Desportivo de Aves.

It’s minute 72 and Vitor Gomes after a corner increases Aves’ advantage for 3-0 but there were some doubts about his position. The referee Fábio Veríssimo is warned of a possible offside and decides to check VAR. However, it turns out that VAR, at the time of analysis, had the best camera covered by a Boavista’s flag.

The outcome: Veríssimo validated the goal and Aves went 3-0 up killing the hopes of Boavista to comeback.

Dutch Super Cup: Referee cancels Feyenoord goal and gives Vitesse a penalty

In what was one of the first polemic moments with VAR this season, as the match happened in August for the Dutch Super Cup – a competition played between the league and Cup’s winners from the previous season – this was probably a perfect example that VAR can take fans from heaven to hell in a few seconds.

Undoubtedly the craziest two minutes and twenty-five seconds of the match. The polemic started on 54 minutes when the Vitesse midfielder El Ahmadi was apparently tackled in the box. However the referee Danny Makkelie didn’t act and as a consequence, Feyenoord started a perfect counter-attack finished by the striker Nicolai Jorgensen.

But then Makkelie stopped the game and after having spent some time surrounded by Vitesse players, he signalled that he would use VAR. In the end, he decided to cancel the goal and give a penalty for a fault that was made 2 minutes and 25 seconds before. The former Manchester United left-back Alex Buttner didn’t miss and levelled the match 1-1.

The polemic was installed but the decision was the correct one, as the Feyenoord’s goal started in a fault.

Serie A: Genoa vs Juventus – VAR gives a penalty preceded by offside and takes more than two minutes to decide for another penalty

One of the most typical critics used against VAR introduction is that this technology slows down the rhythm of the game and can kill emotion in football. This match between Genoa and Juventus was a good example of that in which VAR took too long to decide it was a case to award a penalty or not.

VAR was already under the watchful eye of the fans after having pointed out a penalty to Galabinov, Genoa Striker, who was offside before Rugani, Juventus center back, fouled him, and the situation got worse at the 45 minute when Mario Mandzukic shot towards the goal with the ball suffering a deflection in Genoa’s defender arm. The referee started communicating with VAR assistants and after a long talk, he finally decided to use the screen at the field.

Eventually, he decides for a penalty to Juventus favour but with all this situation the match was interrupted for more than two minutes, something mentioned by Buffon at the end of the match.

MLS – Minnesota vs Philadelphia Union:  Referee finds a fault over Onyewu and overturns penalty and second yellow card

The result was 1-1 when, after a corner quick, the Philadelphia centre-back missed the header and ended intercepting the ball with his arm. The penalty looked obvious and the referee didn’t hesitate in a first place to give the penalty and book Oneyehu with the second yellow card, and consequent, red card. However, after using VAR  the referee was able to detect that Onyewu was pushed at the time of the jump. It’s difficult to say if the slight push was enough to unbalance the centre-back but it was certainly a brave decision.

Sporting – Feirense: When VAR goes out of its jurisdiction area

In this match for Portuguese League, the Sporting Lisbon striker Doumbia puts his team in the front of the result but VAR disallows the goal because of a fault committed by Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes. However, even if there were no doubts that Bruno Fernandes fouls the Feirense player, the decision was not correct: Why? Because after that Sporting loses the ball and get it again by Bryan Ruiz who assists Doumbia to score.

This was a case in which VAR acted when shouldn’t do it. As explained by the Portuguese Arbitration Board after the match “when the team that develops an attack decides to retreat towards their midfield, or the opposing defence throws the ball, it becomes a new move, eliminating any technical infractions committed in the previous phase of an attack.”

The referred moment starts after the first 40 seconds of the video below:

Featured Image: Spor Kolic (Creative Commons)