By Paul Giblin MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua)
-- The Video Assistant Referee (VAR)
system which is being used for the first time in the World Cup
in Russia has certainly given plenty of reasons for discussion,
with Brazil angry that Switzerland’s equalizing goal against
them in the 1-1 draw in Rostov on Sunday night was allowed to
stand and asking for explanations why nobody spotted Stefan
Zuber’s push on Joao Miranda.
were unhappy two clear fouls on striker Harry Kane went
unpunished during their 2-1 win over Tunisia on Monday, while
Tunisia did get a spot kick after the VAR officials deemed Kyle
Walker’s outstretched arm deserved a penalty at the other end.
England coach Gareth
Southgate said after the game that although he had no complaints
about Tunisia’s penalty, he wondered why “it wasn’t one at the
correct in highlighting that the decision to award Tunisia a
first half penalty wasn’t a “clear and obvious error,” but
added, “if penalties are going to be given for that then it’s
going to be an interesting tournament.”
So far that
prediction is being proved correct as the first round of 16
group matches have produced 9 penalty kicks; a record for the
first round of group matches and a big increase on the number of
penalties given in 2014, 2010 and 2006.
In Brazil four years
ago, the eighth penalty of the tournament wasn’t blown until the
25th game, while it needed 35 games for eight
penalties to be awarded in South Africa and 40 in the 2006 World
Cup, which was held in Germany.
It could be that in
2006 past referees believed that contact had to be much clearer
than in South Africa and Brazil and you could argue it is easier
to win a penalty now than in the past, with many officials
considering a slight contact from a defender to be worthy of
That trend seems to
have been born out so far in Russia with some of the penalties
awarded coming after only slight contact (and in the case of
Ronaldo’s penalty against Spain, it could even be argued it was
the forward provoking the contact than the defender).
However, the fact
VAR can only overturn a decision which is deemed a “clear and
obvious error” means all of those penalties were given and
Zuber’s goal was allowed to stand, because although the
decisions were debatable, they were not clear mistakes. Meaning
that although VAR is a help it is not going to put an end to
controversy as many would have expected.