By Thomas Strong
Last Updated: 17th June 2018
VAR (Video Assistant Referee) has been called upon to reverse decisions for the first time in World Cup 2018 matches today.
The historic first occasion came during the match between France and Australia, with a penalty awarded to France for a foul on Antione Griezmann following Paul Pogba’s through ball pass.
Uruguayan referee Andres Cunha initially dismissed France’s appeals, only to reverse his decision following consultation from the assistant referee’s screen, much to the dismay of the Australian team. Griezmann duly converted the penalty.
VAR was then called upon moments later in the same match, with another penalty being awarded to Australia for Samuel Umtiti’s blatant handball. The decision was also reviewed by VAR, though this time the decision was obviously correct and less controversial. Mile Jedinak equalised from the spot.
Later in the day, the technology was used once more in the match between Denmark and Peru to award yet another penalty, with Peru striker Christian Cueva going down under Yousef Poulsen’s challenge. This time referee Bakary Gassama consulted the monitors before overturning his original decision and pointing to the spot. Cueva failed to capitalise, blasting his penalty high over the crossbar.
VAR has been approved for the 2018 World Cup in order to rectify “clear and obvious mistakes.” It’s decisions like these that support the argument for the introduction of the technology, albeit at the expense of the flow of the game via the subsequent additional stoppages. Unlike goal line technology where there is minimal chance of a wrong decision, there is emphasis on the referee to use VAR accordingly, and it remains to be seen whether it will be implemented correctly across the board in Russia.
Will we be seeing more VAR drama in the next few weeks? If today’s action is anything to go by, there’s no doubt that we will.