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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Messi Misses ~ VAR debuts and overturns decision of referee for France


In Cricket, review / referral is a welcome technology that helps Team fight against decisions of the Umpire which otherwise would have gone away ~ there are such use of technology in FIFA too .. ..

It is soccer mania ~ yet, football fans were shocked to see thousands of empty seats during Egypt and Uruguay's World Cup clash today. The two nations played at the Ekaterinburg Arena in Russia's most easterly city Yekaterinburg, in front of 5,200 bright orange seats with nobody in them.  Ironically, the stadium's capacity had been  increased from 23,000 prior to the tournament but FIFA regulations stipulated that every venue must have a minimum capacity of 35,000 seats. The reason for the empty seats might be Yekaterinburg's location. It is 1113 miles from Russia's capital Moscow, where a lot of travelling fans are staying for the tournament.

In another match watched by millions - Lionel Messi stood a few yards away from the ball as it lay on the penalty spot. He waited. Behind him, in the stands at the side of the pitch, Argentina fans bowed down theatrically to the living deity. Behind the goal at the Spartak Stadium, more fans chanted his name, slowly and rhythmically. High to his left, sitting in a VIP box, Diego Maradona watched from behind a garish pair of sunglasses. Messi took his normal short run-up. Everyone expected him to score. That goes without saying. Messi had scored 64 goals in 124 games for Argentina before this match. But it was not a good penalty and the Iceland goalkeeper, Hannes Halldorsson, guessed correctly. He dived to his right and the ball was hit just high enough and just low enough for him to parry it away to safety.

In the match of France against Australia - VAR overturned a decision at the World Cup for the first time as referee Andres Cunha reversed choice not to award France a penalty.   Antoine Griezmann was brought down just inside the box by Australian defender Josh Risdon early in the second-half of the Group C encounter. Referee Andres Cunha at first did not award a spot kick but, after consulting his pitch side monitor, overturned the decision. Griezmann then stepped up and put France ahead. It was in the 53rd minute of the match that the controversy unfolded. Paul Pogba set Griezmann through on goal and as he approached the box Risdon brought him down. Play continued as normal for around 25 seconds before the ball went out of play and Cunha blew his whistle before running over to his pitch side monitor to begin the review.

The officials inside the tournament's VAR headquarters in Moscow and Cunha then began trawling through replays from two camera angles. After thoroughly watching the footage for around 37 seconds, the referee overturned his decision. Australia were left fuming with the ruling but there was nothing they could do as France went ahead and Risdon was left with a yellow card.  Just as we see in Cricket, during review – the  LED screens within the stadium highlighted to fans that VAR was reviewing the decision.

On the BBC's coverage of the game pundits were split over the decision. Former Manchester United defender and current England women's manager Phil Neville thought the officials made the wrong call. Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and ex-Arsenal defender Alex Scott were of the opposite opinion and felt referees made the correct decision.  Australia captain Mile Jedinak bemoaned the decision but remained upbeat in his post-match interview. 'Disappointed. We didn't have that luck. That first decision I don't know, the ball seemed to keep going and he didn't get a shout. That's football, we understand that and must keep going.

Moments after the first penalty incident, Cunha consulted the screen once again to double check Samuel Umtiti had handled a cross into the box. The technology confirmed his decision and Crystal Palace's Jedinak stepped up to fire Australia level in Kazan. This year's edition of the tournament in Russia is the first time video technology is available to match officials. The VAR and his assistants have a number of television cameras at their Moscow base throughout the tournament - some 37 during the knockout stages.

The Video Assistant Referee is a highly-trained match official who is watching the game away from the pitch, safely shut away in a room casting an eagle eye over every piece of play. When trialed by the Bundesliga, VARs were based externally in Cologne, as opposed to inside the match-day stadium. They communicate with the referee on the field of play via a two-way radio. The tech first reared its head on British shores when England faced Germany in a friendly at Wembley, following successful tests in Germany, Italy and the United States. The referee must consult VAR — only then does the process of analysis of an incident begin. The VAR cannot simply review anything it wants during the match. The referee draws the outline of a TV screen in the air so everybody knows what's going on and that VAR is set to be used.

Initially the masters of the game expressed their opposition stating that the technology  is 'making the game ugly.'  ~ but it only enhances the quality weeding out the wrong decisions will be learnt over period of time.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
16th June 2018.


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