Russia 2018: Which teams have been victims of VAR?

LatinAmerican Post reviews some examples of the 2018 World Cup matches in which video assistant referee has intervened, for better or for worse

Russia 2018: Which teams have been victims of VAR?

The Russia 2018 World Cup has been an unexpected event, as the favorite selections to reach the final stages of the Cup, either for titles won or for having an important history in this contest, have been eliminated in the first group stage or in the round of sixteen. Among the 'big'  teams that had been eliminated are Germany, Argentina, and Spain. However, these eliminations are not only due to a tactical-sporting component or the performance of the players of these teams but also to the new actor that has generated controversy due to various of its decisions: the VAR.

Leer en español: Rusia 2018: ¿Qué equipos han sido víctimas del VAR?

As expected, the introduction of the video assistant referee (VAR) at the 2018 World Cup in Russia has played a decisive and perhaps controversial role in the results, as has been observed in some matches since the group stage. This system is implemented in several countries with professional leagues, such as Germany, Italy, Portugal, France, Holland, Poland, the United States, the Czech Republic, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey; and seeks to minimize human errors.

However, the video assistant referee has been a factor of distraction and delays in field decisions, generating detractors within the same players participating in the World Cup, as mentioned by the Spanish newspaper Marca. According to statements made by the Moroccan player Amrabat, "The VAR is a crap."

It must be remembered that VAR continues in an experimental process, so mistakes will continue to exist. The Marca newspaper mentions that only in the group stage, the VAR was used 17 times from the second day of the World Cup, where France beat Australia thanks to a penalty seen by the VAR and the same for the "Hawkeye" that registers the balls that pass the goal line in the arcs.

Likewise, Marca newspaper highlights that Group B, where Iran, Portugal, Spain, and Morocco were located, was one of the most affected by the VAR. The video assistant referee sanctioned a penalty in favor of Portugal in the meeting with Iran, an aggression by Cristiano and a penalty in favor of Iran. Quite the opposite happened in the match between Spain and Morocco, where the lack of the VAR did not sanction a clear hand of Gerard Piqué within the Spanish area.

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Another of the controversial moments in which the VAR has come into play was in the game between the teams of Colombia and Senegal, where the South American country saw its participation in the next round of knockout. In one of the plays of the African soccer player Sadio Mané, who also plays in Liverpool Premier League, the Colombian defender Davinson Sánchez made a sweep which was sanctioned as a foul by the referee Milorad Mazic and decreed a penalty, as described by the newspaper El País of Colombia. Subsequently, the Serbian spoke with the technical team of the VAR on the play and the latter reversed the sanction, forgiving the coffee team of a decision detrimental to its aspirations.

A recent victim of the VAR was Spain's national team, which was eliminated in the penalty shootout by Russia. This was an encounter dominated almost entirely by the Spanish side, which went ahead one goal after the start of the game. The Eurosport media describes a controversial action against the Spanish team when the Russians took a corner and the player Dzyuba headed. The ball hit Piqué's arm when he jumped with his arms outstretched, but unintentionally, caused by the impulse to rise. The referee Bjorn Kuipers sentenced penalty in favor of the Russians, which made the match one equal. Then, in time of the extension, a couple of actions were developed, such as Sergio Ramos who was caught in the area. Here it was almost obvious a penalty, but after consultation of the Dutch referee with the VAR team, they finally considered this a clean play, saving the host team, which would end up eliminating the red team in the penalty shootout.

The VAR has been an active participant in some decisions, changing the fate of some selections. However, the VAR is still controlled by referees, so human mistakes will continue due to subjectivity. After all, the referee will always have the final word, the final decision.

LatinAmerican Post | Gabriel Moros

Translated from "Rusia 2018: ¿Qué equipos han sido víctimas del VAR?"

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