October 3, 2023

10 controversial VAR decisions in football

10 controversial VAR decisions in football
By Enitan Abdultawab

The introduction of VAR in the summer of 2016 was welcomed with mixed feelings. While some feel that the technology would solve the long-term problem of video replays, some clubs feel threatened that the technology could be made to tweak decisions and results.

However, the introduction of the technology, as much as it has made some remarkable impacts have seemingly done some harm. The harm – poor decisions that have cost teams – are quite horrendous and clearly irreversible.

Just recently, VAR failed to review Liverpool’s Luiz Dias’s goal when they played Tottenham at the weekend. Every angle of the goal obviously revealed that Dias was onside but it was ruled off for offside.

It was indeed an error and PGMOL have admitted it. That, however, was not the first time VAR would make such an error.

In the light of that, let’s take a look at 10 controversial VAR decisions since the technology debuted.

  1. Manchester City vs Southampton – Premier league 2020/21

This day, Phil Foden rushed through on goal but was tripped by Alex McCarthy right inside the penalty box. However, Phil Foden seemed so honest that he didn’t fall because he felt he could still score. However, he missed his target.

VAR didn’t review the evident foul because Foden hadn’t stayed on the ground. However, Manchester City still won by 5 goals to 2.

  1. West Ham vs Chelsea – Premier league 2022/23

VAR’s performance in the 2022/23 Premier League campaign was so poor. One of the biggest highlights was Chelsea’s draw against West Ham. With the scoreline at 1-1, Chelsea’s midfielder Connor Callagher shot a straight ball unto goal but Soucek appeared to have collided with the ball using his arm.

VAR failed to review the ball on grounds that Soucek was reeling towards the ground and Chelsea had to contend with a point.

  1. Getafe vs Barcelona – LaLiga 2023/24

One of the biggest victims of VAR poor officiating decisions is Barcelona. Just again, Barcelona travelled to Getafe and suffered outrageous physical football. However, the biggest error was when Ronald Araujo was clearly fouled but VAR ruled off because Gavi had allegedly handled the ball.

However, further review after the match revealed that Gavi did not handle the ball.

  1. Tottenham vs Newcastle – Premier league 2020/21

Till date, it still seems that the rule of arm ball is not clear to some referees. When Tottenham hosted Newcastle, they were almost headed for three points but found Eric Dier handle a ball off Andy Caroll’s header. Dier had his back to the ball because it was a aerial duel and didn’t clearly see the ball.

However, VAR pointed to the spot, ignoring the ball-to-hand rule and Newcastle got a point from the match.

  1. Japan vs Spain – World Cup 2022

Japan was in the same group with Spain in the 2022 FIFA World Cup and scored a goal in the 51st minute. However, controversies hovered over the goal scored as it seemed that the ball was out of play before Kaoru Mitoma cut it back inside for Ao Tanaka to score. The goal-line called the referee and ruled it a goal because a bit of the ball was still on the line. However, the angle in which it was reviewed didn’t seem so.

It was not until about 20 hours later that FIFA revealed a TV angle that showed that the ball was out of play before Mitoma cut back in. Sadly, it was too late as the goal proved to be the goal which knocked Germany out of the World Cup.

  1. Manchester United vs Manchester City – Premier league 2022/23

Manchester City were almost walking away with a victory at the Old Trafford until the 78th minutes when Marcus Rashford was released by Casemiro. He was clearly offside off Maneul Akanji but he made runs at the ball as if he was going to shoot only to make way for an onside Bruno Fernandes to shoot.

It was clearly an aversion of the rule as he was not supposed to make efforts at the ball. However, VAR made the goal stand and Manchester went ahead to score one more.

  1. Mainz vs Frieburg – Bundesliga 2017/18

Mainz and Freiburg competed in the Bundesliga in 2017–18. The referee rejected Mainz’s plea for a handball just before the first half came to a close. Nevertheless, six minutes had passed since the start of halftime before a decision was made.

VAR then felt a need to award the penalty. By then, both teams were already in the dressing room. To play the penalty kick, the players were then summoned from the locker room. It was incredibly unprofessional how long the VAR and its judge took to impose the punishment.

  1. Everton vs Arsenal – Premier league 2021/22

Arsenal were facing a strong team in Everton in December given their relegation-threatened zone in the league at the time. Everton employed a dark art all through but the most notable was a terrible foul that was clearly deemed of a red card.

Ben Godfrey of the Toffees made a tackle on Takehiro. He struck Tomiyasu in the face with his stud so much that the Arsenal player’s face was scarred by the impact, which was so severe. The referee and VAR, however, agreed that the incident was unintentional. Godfrey escaped receiving a card, and Everton won 2–1.

  1. Juventus vs Salernitana – Serie A 2022/23

Juventus were suffering from a managerial crisis and also had to suffer a poor refereeing system when they hosted Salernitana. The Old Ladies deservedly got three points via a Milik’s last-minute goal. This caused a wild celebration from Juventus fans that Milik, Fazio and Cuadrado were sent off by the referee.

To make the matter worse, the goal was chalked off for an offside via an angle that showed that Leonardo Bonucci was offside. However, another angle that VAR didn’t look was Antonio Candreva playing him onside.

  1. Tottenham vs Liverpool – Premier league 2023/22

The most recent of VAR’s poor decisions was Liverpool’s visit to Tottenham. Both teams haven’t lost a single Premier league match ahead of that clash and it was Luiz Dias who opened the scoring for the Reds. However, it was wrongly ruled offside by on-field referees but later reviews after the match showed he was onside.

It was an unfortunate situation for Liverpool saw two reds in the match and eventually succumbed to a 2 – 1 loss.

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