Does VAR in soccer generate more controversy than it clarifies?

We review three games in which the dubious participation of the VAR was considered highly influential in the final result .

Referee Jiyed Redouane concedes a goal to South Africa following a VAR review

On many occasions, the actions of those behind the VAR screens have been questioned. / Photo: REUTERS / Amr Abdallah Dalsh

LatinAmerican Post | Thomas Handley

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Leer en español: ¿El VAR en el fútbol genera más polémicas que las que esclarece?

With the arrival of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to soccer, many close people to the sport agreed that it would be spared controversial plays. The result, however, was the opposite. Although attendees are consulted on issues that are not entirely clear during the game, the performance of those behind the screens has also been questioned on many occasions. We then took three of the cases that caused the most anger in the institutions and fans despite the support of technology.

Everton vs. Liverpool – Premier League

On October 17, 2020, in an electrifying match with a movie ending, the main protagonist was not a player but the VAR. After a tense 92 minutes in which both teams equalized with two goals, a situation occurred that caused discomfort to the visiting team. An apparent legal qualification of Sadio Mané resulted in a goal by Jordan Henderson to sentence the 3-2 in favor of the Red Devils. The euphoria for the goal had double value since it was the famous Merseyside Derby. However, a dubious decision by the video assistant ruled that the assister's hand was behind the line of the last defender. The final decision, after being reviewed, was to annul the goal, resulting in a draw. The complaints and anger did not take long, but the decision was already made.

Barcelona vs. Real Madrid – La Liga

At 62 minutes into the game, with the result in a tie for a goal from each side, a clear grab from Lenglet inside the area to Sergio Ramos led to a shot from twelve steps, which Ramos himself was in charge of redeeming for a goal. Although the contact exists, the exaggerated fall of the Madrid defender to the other side raised suspicions and complaints from the Catalan club. In that same game, there were other situations that gave Barcelona fans food for thought, which ended up being defeated 3-1 in the final.

Read also: Norway: A soccer powerhouse in construction

Argentina vs. Brazil – Copa America 2019

For the semifinals of the Copa América 2019, held in Brazil, the Video Assistant Referee was considered key to the host's victory against the Argentine team. Although he made the wrong decisions, the most controversial actions were based on omissions of review. After 25 minutes of the game, with a score of 1 to 0 for the Rio de Janeiro team, Sergio Agüero entered the area to receive an assist from Lionel Messi. It was a clear play on goal, but before there was even contact with the ball, Dani Alves crossed it with his thigh, causing the Argentine forward to fall. Those in charge of reviewing the play decided not to do it this time. To add to the error in the failure, that same play led to a counterattack by Brazil, which ended in the second and last goal of the match. A similar situation happened at 83 minutes. This time, it was Otamendi who was waiting to connect the center from a corner kick. Without waiting for the ball to approach the playing area, Arthur stopped it with his forearm at neck level. On this occasion, unlike the previous one, the game was stopped due to an injury to the Argentine defender, but the play was not reviewed.

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