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VIDEO KILLED THE FOOTBALL

Is VAR distorting football forever more?

Even the Portugal manager said VAR was all getting a little weird

In the words of Fernando Santos, it all got a little weird last night.

Group B entered the final round of games with three of the four teams able to qualify.

Spain needed a result against Morocco, while Portugal knew a point against Iran and they’d be safe.

Seemed to see this A LOT last night

Reuters
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Seemed to see this A LOT last night

But that didn’t stop VAR having its most influential night of the World Cup so far.

And to be honest, even for this advocate, it was a bit ridiculous how much the video replays were relied on during Portugal v Iran.

The Paraguayan referee Enrique Caceres looked paralysed to rely on his own decision making when he knew the safety net of video verification was available.

This is what it means to the players

Getty - Contributor
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This is what it means to the players

There were two VAR penalties awarded in the Portugal v Iran game and another given in Spain v Morocco, meaning this World Cup has already had more penalties awarded than any other in history with 20 – nine of which were after VAR review.

We agree that video referees are required to stop any kind of repeats of Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ or Thierry Henry’s handball or other horrendous mistakes on the world stage, but the referee still needs to maintain some autonomy.

Caceres conceded any personal judgement he might have to his new video overlord last night, and still managed to get a decision wrong.


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This is the moment that Iran were given a penalty for

Getty Images - Getty
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This is the moment that Iran were given a penalty for

Firstly, when Cristiano Ronaldo went flying in the box the referee initially waved it away as fair contact and continued the game.

However, after a whisper in his ear he went to the TV replay box and despite having seen the original incident with his own eyes, the fact someone else told him it might be a penalty was enough to make him change his mind.

Then midway through the second half Ronaldo had a very nervous wait as he was reviewed for a possible red card for a coming together while he was chasing a ball.

But the biggest VAR controversy of the night came when Caceres awarded Iran a late penalty from a ball lofted into the box.

Sardar Azmoun leaped highest and nodded the ball into Cedric Soares’ arms, there was almost nothing the Portugal defender could do about it.

Caceres originally thought nothing of it but after a fairly long wait he was called over to take another look at it.

And for the second time in the night, having not given a penalty on first glance he reversed his decision to give the spot kick.

Slotted.

Reuters
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Slotted.

Oddly enough the manager which benefited most from the VAR decisions didn’t agree and the manager who was punished did.

Iran boss Carlos Quieroz said: “The decisions must be clear for everybody. Everybody agrees VAR is not going well. There are a lot of complaints.”

While Portugal’s Santos said: “I wasn’t concerned by the three decisions. It seemed like a normal thing in the match. The referee did what he had to do. That what we have to accept.”

All of that is fine and two of the three decisions reached the correct conclusions.

Seeing double

Getty - Contributor
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Seeing double

But it was the first time that we had seen how much chaos VAR can cause when a football match has a lot riding on it.

Clearly the referee wanted to make sure all the decisions were correct but it definitely broke up the flow of the match and felt like nearly every major incident would be sent upstairs before beign verified.

Even rugby referees sometimes make decisions themselves.