April 17 – Those opposed to the formal introduction of video assistant referees have strengthened their case after arguably the most bizarre incident since testing began.
Players of Mainz 05 and Freiburg had already left the pitch for half time in a top-flight Bundesliga match when a penalty was awarded for handball and they were ordered back out.
Even the referee Guido Winkmann was on his way to the tunnel after blowing for the interval but as everyone departed, Winkmann was told to consult VAR and ran over to the other side of the pitch to watch a replay on a monitor. He then awarded the hosts a penalty after having to recall the entire Freiburg side and a handful of Mainz players who had left the pitch.
The Bundesliga is one of a number of leagues in which VAR has been used this season but not without several disputed decisions. The latest incident, as usual, was not about the technology itself but the way decisions are reached and the time taken.
“It leaves a bitter taste,” Freiburg sporting director Jochen Saier said. “We were under the impression that when the referee blows for half-time that’s it.”
The second half was further delayed by fans throwing toilet paper on to the pitch, not related to the penalty decision but instead the latest protest against Bundesliga fixtures being played on Monday nights to suit television.
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