Nations League shows VARreaching beyond its original scope

first_imgBy Brian HomewoodPORTO (Reuters) – Former UEFA president Michel Platini always opposed the introduction of technology in football because he felt that, once it gained a foothold, it would quickly expand and change the character of the sport altogether.Football, he warned, was about to open Pandora’s Box.Several years later, the Frenchman may feel he has been proved right by the pervasive use of video assistant referees (VAR).When it initially presented VAR in 2016, soccer’s rule-making body IFAB said the purpose was to stamp out glaring refereeing mistakes such as Diego Maradona’s Hand of God goal in the 1986 World Cup. But, less than 18 months after its introduction, it has turned into what seems a search for refereeing perfection.Matches are now stopped for two to three minutes and goal celebrations put on hold while VAR officials in a room full of television monitors conduct a forensic examination for the slightest hint of contact or offside in the build up. England had two goals disallowed after VAR reviews at the Nations League in Portugal when not even their opponents complained of an infraction.Callum Wilson’s late goal against Switzerland on Sunday was chalked off after VAR spotted that he pushed Manuel Akanji in the buildup while Jesse Lingard’s effort against the Netherlands was ruled out because part of his body was a fraction offside. Similarly, in the women’s World Cup, Griedge Mbock Bathy had a wonderful strike for France disallowed against South Korea because the tip of her foot was ahead of the last defender even though the rest of her body was line.All three decisions were technically correct but was that what VAR was intended for? And were they in the spirit of the offside rule which is designed primarily to stop forwards goal-hanging?When preliminary testing began, IFAB’s technical director David Elleray said that “VAR isn’t designed to end referee mistakes but it’s to deal with those very clear match-changing ones.”As an example, he cited Thierry Henry’s goal, scored after he controlled the ball with his arm, which took France to the 2010 World Cup at Ireland’s expense — hardly the same as a player having their finger three centimetres offside.OBVIOUS ERRORSIn a briefing to reporters earlier this year, UEFA’s refereeing chief Roberto Rosetti said that the incidents were reviewed if they obvious to VAR officials — not simply players, coaches or spectators.Linesmen are now told to keep their flags down when they suspect an offside so the incident can be reviewed in the studio once the move finishes, effectively reducing their role. Sometimes, VAR can be as controversial as a decision taken with the naked eye, such as the penalty awarded to England against Scotland in Sunday’s women’s World Cup match for handball by Nicola Docherty when there seemed no way she could get her arm out of the way. Equally contentious was a penalty given to Switzerland against Portugal in the Nations League for the slightest of tugs on Steven Zuber.Former World Cup final referee Arnaldo Cesar Coelho warned last year that slow motion could make fouls and handballs appear deliberate when they really were not. “Slow motion distorts the incident because it does not always the reflect the intensity of the movement,” he said.The Zuber incident raised another awkward question — when to stop play for a review — after Portugal immediately broke down the other end and were awarded a penalty of their own. Amid huge confusion, Portugal’s penalty was revoked and a spot kick awarded to Switzerland.Portugal coach Fernando Santos suggested that VAR was a good idea — but only if properly used. “I think VAR is important, I think it can help but those who are in charge have to pay attention to this,” he said. “Otherwise we will all start saying that VAR is no good when it could be a really useful tool.”last_img read more

New Zealand brace for Peru onslaught

first_img0Shares0000New Zealand’s coach Anthony Hudson walks from the field at half-time during the World Cup football qualifying match against Peru at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on November 11, 2017 © AFP/File / Marty MELVILLELIMA, Peru, Nov 15 – New Zealand manager Anthony Hudson said his team are preparing for an early onslaught as they face Peru here on Wednesday with a World Cup place on the line.The New Zealanders take on Peru in their Oceania-South America playoff with the odds against them after a 0-0 draw in the first leg at Wellington on Saturday. However, Hudson believes the pressure is all on hosts Peru, who are aiming to secure their first appearance at a World Cup finals since 1982.“We know that if Peru loses, it will be a national disaster,” Hudson said. “We don’t have that pressure. We have a united and small but strong team that is here to win.”Hudson said he believes that awareness of that pressure will prompt Peru to begin aggressively when Wednesday’s second leg kicks off at Lima’s Estadio Nacional.“I expect their team to try and play very fast and try and score early,” Hudson said.“The longer the tie stays the way it is, the more it will go in our favour. I imagine the pressure will only increase on the home team every five minutes as the game goes on.“And because of that pressure, I think they’re going to start very fast.”New Zealand, ranked 122nd in the world, need only a score draw in Lima to be assured of their third World Cup berth, following appearances at the 1982 and 2010 finals.New Zealand captain Winston Reid, meanwhile, was only too happy to remind Peru of their own struggles when it came to qualifying for the World Cup.Asked to comment on New Zealand’s poor record of qualifying for the World Cup, the West Ham defender replied: “Well you haven’t been to a World Cup for a while have you?“Records are meant to be broken, for you and for us. So we will see.”Hudson, meanwhile, said he expects Burnley’s Chris Wood to be ready to play after a recent hamstring problem.“He’ll be fine. Every day that passes he has been getting better,” Hudson said.Peru, meanwhile, will look to strikers Jefferson Farfan and Raul Ruidiaz to help provide the cutting edge in the absence of the suspended Paolo Guerrero.Guerrero is unavailable after failing a dope test last month.“We still have one more final and we have to give everything to get to the World Cup,” said Farfan, who plays for Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow.“New Zealand is a team that is very disciplined tactically and in defence it does not leave any space. You have to be patient to find the space.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more