September 23 – Another footballing weekend – another string of video assistant referee (VAR) controversies, this time in the English Premier League where Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea were both penalised for the most marginal of offside decisions.
Tottenham can feel particularly aggrieved after having a goal ruled out by – wait for it – 1.6 centimeters against Leicester City. The decision changed the game with Spurs, who led 1-0 at the time the goal was disallowed, going on to lose 2-1.
Leicester also had a goal disallowed but in their case the original decision to let it stand was patently wrong, constituted a “clear and obvious error” by the officials and was therefore correctly rectified.
But in Tottenham’s case, ruling out the goal was condemned as being farcical after Son Heung-min was adjudged to have been offside by a hair’s breadth in the build-up to Serge Aurier’s effort which would have put Spurs two goals in front.
Television pundit and former England captain Gary Lineker, who played for both Spurs and Leicester, said afterwards that VAR had overstepped the mark and was “sucking the life out of football” while former Manchester United and Danish international goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel said: “I will never be a fan of VAR in its present form. Not to give Spurs the second goal is an absolute joke.”
The knife-edge call changed the course of the match and almost certainly robbed Tottenham of a first away win in the league since January. The decision may have been correct in terms of the letter of the law but once again undermined common sense and the spirit of the law. The real contention surrounds the suggestion that Son gained an advantage, as the offside rule dictates (which on the face of it video evidence was not the case with Son) and demands for the system to be used wisely and logically – and to stop penalising the attacking player.
Chelsea can also feel hard done by though perhaps not to the same extent. They were a goal down to Trent Alexander-Arnold’s strike against table-toppers Liverpool and thought they had equalised, only to be denied by VAR. Cesar Azpilicueta fired home from close range but Mason Mount was adjudged offside earlier in the move which led to the goal. Liverpool then grabbed a second en route to a 2-1 victory.
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