There’s no denying that VAR is a still a hotly debated issue in football today. While it is widely used in most prestigious leagues, the technology remains far from perfect, and the implementation in the games is still a divisive topic.
Many VAR decisions have been and remain extremely controversial, and some of them even made the headlines.
Bettors have and bookmakers alike have lost money due to the outcomes of these decisions and many of the leading UK football bookmakers offer specific markets for betting on VAR decisions.
Today, we’re going to look at some of these decisions. Let’s get started.
Man City vs Tottenham, 2018-19 UCL
In the quarter finals of the 2018-19 Champion’s League season, City faced Tottenham, and both teams faced a couple of tough VAR decisions. In the 73rd minute, Fernando Llorente scored, bringing the score up to 4-3 to Tottenham.
On replay, it was seen that the ball was dangerously close to his hand and elbow, and the City supporters naturally called for a handball. The referee, though, ruled this out, and Tottenham were allowed the goal.
Though Sterling seemed to reignite hopes for the league cup, scoring in stoppage time and levelling the score, the VAR ultimately determined it was offside and disallowed.
Emotions were running high in the game, so, understandably, this game made the headlines for its VAR controversies.
Senegal vs Algeria, AFCON final
Things looked promising for Algeria at the beginning. Bounedjah scored in the first two minutes, though Senegal then seemed to dominate the game for the rest of the match.
At the midpoint of the second half, Senegal were awarded a penalty—a much needed lifeline. It was thought that Guedioura had struck the ball with his arm in the box.
But this decision was overturned with the VAR review. It was most likely decided the handball was not deliberate. The penalty was not awarded, and Senegal could not pull things back, ultimately losing the final 1-0.
Portugal vs Iran, 2018 World Cup
Few games are as high stakes as those in the World Cup. Players and fans know this, which is why this group B game in the 2018 World Cup made headlines for its controversial VAR decisions.
Ronaldo went down in the box following a poor challenge from Iran;s Pouraliganji, but initially no penalty was given.
After consulting with the VAR, the penalty was awarded after all. Ronaldo was then later yellow carded after initially not being for swinging his arm at Pouraliganji.
Iran was later awarded a controversial penalty with the help of the VAR, calling a handball on Cedric Soares.
This game was doubtless one of the most VAR controversy filled.
Scotland vs Argentina, 2019 Women’s World Cup
This game was drama filled from the start. With the full-time whistle just around the corner, Scotland were up 3-2 over Argentina.
Argentina was awarded a controversial penalty three minutes from the final whistle—though it was saved. However, the VAR ruled that the Scottish keeper, Lee Alexander, was off her line.
The penalty was allowed to be retaken, and this time it was scored, ending Scotland home. This rule is a recent and controversial one, and is yet another point of contention for VAR technology.
Manchester United vs PSG, 2018-19 UCL
Handballs have been one of the biggest points of contention for VAR technology. In the 89th minute of this Champion’s League game, Diogo Dalot made a desperate, last minute play for a goal to keep their hopes of winning alive.
The play made into the box hit PSG’s Kimpembe, and VAR was consulted to try and determine if this was a deliberate move.
PSG were furious when the penalty was awarded to United for the handball, and it certainly rubbed salt in the wound when Rashford scored to take them to victory. The reaction to this decision was among the angriest of any controversial VAR decisions.
If there’s one area where VAR has its longest way to go, it’s in building back player trust. Controversial decisions might not seem that frequent in the grand scheme of things, but the margin for error must be as small as it can possibly be.
Until the technology can truly reach this level, it will always be a question in fan’s minds.