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Germany handles Nigeria, books quarterfinal spot at World Cup

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Germany cruised to the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals with a 3-0 defeat of Nigeria on Saturday in the first Round of 16 match of the tournament.

Alexandra Popp, Sara Dabritz, and Lea Schuller led the way, with VAR again playing a role in the score line.

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Popp powered home a header which needed to withstand VAR review because an offside but stationary Svenja Huth could’ve been adjudged to be in the line of sight of Nigerian keeper Chiamaka Nnadozie.

Dabritz converted a penalty kick when Video Assistant Referee spotted a cleats-up foul on Lina Magull following a whiffed clearance from Nigeria’s Evelyn Nwabuoku.

The third goal was a sight, as Germany put the result to bed through the 21-year-old Schuller. It was her first goal at a World Cup.

IFAB approves FIFA request to change VAR rule for Women’s World Cup

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A FIFA request to change the awarding of yellow cards for goalkeeper transgressions on penalty kicks has been approved midway through the Women’s World Cup.

The International Football Association Board granted the request after much consternation over the use of Video Assistant Referee to punish goalkeepers for leaving their lines on penalty kicks at the tournament.

The IFAB says the reasoning is simple and starts with VAR’s presence providing the possibility of a retake is more of a deterrent than a yellow card.

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It also notes that VAR makes it likely that yellow card offenses would happen during penalties, and that the rulebook would doom an outfield player to the goalkeeper’s crease since no substitutions are allowed during kicks.

In all of those instances, VAR is slanting the playing field to the kicker.

The announcement comes days after PGMOL said the Premier League would not include goalkeeper positioning amongst its reasons for VAR.

If you’re wondering how many instances other than a player biting another have led to such quick and decisive action from around football, your answer is, “Yes, this has been a nightmare.”

Double Column: Why the VAR was right and wrong, and who’s to blame

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The controversy surrounding the use of VAR at the Women’s World Cup took a new turn on Monday, as two decisions helped give France a 1-0 win over Nigeria, ensuring the European nation finished atop Group A.

For those who haven’t seen it, referee Melissa Borjas went to the video monitor to take a second look twice during the match. First, when Ngozi Ebere fouled Viviane Asseyi in the penalty box, leading to a penalty kick, and the second time when Nigeria’s 18-year-old goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie hopped off her line by a foot, VAR alerted Borjas to award a retake.

PST writers Dan Karell and Kyle Bonn both have opinions, and we figured this was a good forum to get their ideas off their mind.


Dan Karell

In my opinion, VAR did its job correctly. The problem wasn’t with VAR, or even the rules. It was with the referee, and how she interpreted those rules.

The original intent for VAR was to be used to fix clear and obvious mistakes missed by the referees, especially the center referee. This includes many examples, such as an obvious hand-ball in the box, the ball crossing the goalline, violent conduct away from the ball, or cases of mistaken identity with cards to players.

I don’t believe that either situation, the original penalty kick and the retake, were “clear and obvious” mistakes that were missed by the ref. Yes, was Asseyi probably fouled in the box by Eberi? Probably. But Asseyi also got to the ball first and could have taken a first-time strike. While that may have been a foul if it had happened at midfield, and therefore was in theory correctly called, you’ve got the referee and at least one assistant looking right at the play. If the referee decides to play on, then play on.

For the second, it was even more egregious. The new rules from the International Football Association Board states that goalkeepers now only need to have one foot on the line on penalty kicks, as most goalkeepers like to creep up and step off the line to shorten the distance to making a save. Of course, in the men’s game, this rule came to pass because almost no goalkeepers kept both feet on the line like they were supposed to. Like speed limit laws, it’s a law on paper but it’s almost never enforced unless there’s an serious issue, like someone driving 20 or more miles per hour over the speed limit. Most referees let them get away with it.

In this case, the referee, and two assistants, should have seen Nnadozie encroaching off her line. They also should have seen the France players encroaching into the box before Wendie Renard took the PK, as former U.S. Men’s National Team striker Herculez Gomez pointed out.

It even happened on the retake! Yet only Nnadozie was punished. Again, while Nnadozie was at fault, it shouldn’t have been a “clear and obvious” mistake by the referee. Nnadozie didn’t make contact with the ball as Renard’s first strike caromed off the post, and if Nnadozie somehow got into the head of Renard by stepping one foot off the line, then honestly, that’s on Renard.

In my opinion, while VAR was used correctly, it wasn’t in the spirit of the rule, why the system was put in in the first place. Both situations could have been judged by the referee in the middle. and if referees are now delaying all judgement to the VAR, they lose all authority from players for regular foul calls, throw-ins, or any basic decision.


Kyle Bonn

Here’s the thing about VAR: when used correctly – which it has been on plenty of occasions – it has made the game better 100% of the time. It was never going to be perfect the first time around, as no sport has implemented a replay system with pinpoint accuracy in its first go. The replay system in soccer works and works well, now it’s time for the sport to adjust to the issues which have been presented.

There have been three issues most frequently coming to light, two of which were predictable. The problems many people could see coming were the abrupt and awkward stoppages of play leading to long periods of waiting, and the unclear definition of “clear and obvious error” leading to occasional poor application of the system. Those two issues deserve their own column and can be addressed by analyzing early usage of the system and tweaking its logistical flow to streamline the process.

Thirdly, the system has brought to light certain rules that to the naked eye were never a problem as referees had discretion on how and when to issue punishment, but under replay scrutiny, everything must now be black and white. Do not blame the replay system for this deficiency – the rules were always the problem, the game just didn’t care to make the adjustments, leaving the referees to do that on the field instead. Now, with the rules out of the referees hands, the rules must change.

Obviously the handball rule needs serious correction, and that could take years to parse out. One rule that could be effortlessly edited to fit the new VAR universe is the goalkeeper’s positioning when defending a penalty, one that has become a clear hole in the rule book, no more evident than in the U-20 World Cup and now the Women’s World Cup. New Zealand was booted from the U-20 tournament in a penalty shootout that saw one of their saves ruled a retake after Michael Woud was judged harshly for coming off his line. Now, as Daniel eloquently outlined earlier, the Women’s World Cup suffers.

The laws of the game admitted fault, editing the rule slightly to allow goalkeepers to have one foot on the line rather than two, but this change has done little to fix the problem. Hopefully, a subsequent change will come soon to allow goalkeepers the ability to move in a natural manner while not gaining an advantage on the effort.

Do not blame VAR for the issues built into the game of soccer that human referees were in the past able to mask with common sense no longer afforded to them in a replay world. With the ability to scrutinize millimeters of play using video replay, it’s impossible for a referee to allow minor infractions for the betterment of the game. The game itself must adjust, and should that happen, VAR will be a fabulous addition to the game, but until then, fans, players, and coaches will be forced to swallow more cruel moments like we’ve seen of late, and the growing pains will continue to be noticeable.

Women’s World Cup: Controversial VAR decision helps France beat Nigeria

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For the first time, France won all three of its group stage matches at the Women’s World Cup, but it took a very controversial video assistant referee decision to make it happen.

France beat Nigeria, 1-0, with towering centerback Wendie Renard scoring the game-winning-goal in the 79th minute, on her second attempt at a penalty kick. Renard missed the first penalty kick but was bailed out after Nigeria goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was ruled to have moved ahead of the goal-line, leading to a second penalty kick.

It was the best France could muster all night against the resolute and stingy defensive discipline of Nigeria, which defended well as a unit and kept France from truly putting chances on goal until late in the match.

France had a couple of attacking chances through the first 70 minute shots of the match, but the game didn’t really kick off until the 72nd minute. On a cross into the box from the left, France’s Viviane Asseyi attempted to control the ball but was upended by Nigeria’s Ngozi Eberi. Referee Melissa Borjas didn’t make a call at first, instead listening to her assistants and the VAR. Eventually, she was persuaded to have a second look, and determined a foul had taken place, leading to a penalty. Eberi was also shown a red card after a second yellow, reducing Nigeria to 10.

After the remonstrations from Nigeria ended, Renard stepped up to the spot and dragged her shot off the left post and wide. However, moments later, Borjas was again heading to the VAR to take a look at Nnadozie coming off her line too early. It appeared she had, by just a foot, and Renard didn’t miss on the second attempt.

With the win, France secures first place in Group A and will face a third-place team from groups C, D, or E. With the defeat, Nigeria must hope for favorable score lines from other groups as they attempt to earn a third-place berth into the knockout round.

Premier League releases more VAR details

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The Premier League has released more details regarding next season’s introduction of Video Assistant Referee to the competition.

When a call is overturned via definitive proof, stadia with big screens will show the footage in question to fans.

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For stadia like Anfield and Old Trafford that do not have screens, announcements will be made over the public address system.

The Premier League also announced that it is considering “the possibility of messages and video clips being viewed on handheld devices via an app.”

For more information, here’s the full release from premierleague.com.