Spanish VAR gets nasty as Mediapro denies ‘manipulation’ and ‘criminal mindset’

By Paul Nicholson

October 2 – A row over the use of VAR in Spain has prompted LaLiga’s TV production partner Mediapro to issue a strongly worded rebuttal of accusations from the Spanish federation (RFEF) that Mediapro was manipulating public opinion with its broadcast coverage.

The issue arouse in Athletic Club’s 1-0 win over Valencia following a Denis Chéryshev’s goal in the 26:15 minute. The goal was referred to the video ref over the suspicion of an offside ruling.  In the 28:18 minute the goal was awarded by the referee on the pitch.

However, the pictures that justified the goal award did not make it from the VAR control room to the Mediapro production room for air for broadcast for more than 40 minutes. In the meantime the broadcast showed repeated television camera angles of the incident that seemed to indicate that it was an offside goal.

The pictures broadcast were not those used by the VAR to make the goal award, but the broadcast did not make this clear.

While the delay in the broadcast team receiving the official VAR pictures has subsequently been attributed to human error, such was the length of delay that doubts were cast over the correctness of a decision that grew to public indignation.

The RFEF’s criticism that this was irresponsible broadcast behaviour by Mediapro was countered by a statement saying that it behaved as would be expected of a broadcaster.

“Thise responsible for the production have provided all the replays available to offer viewers every possible angle and viewpoint. These replays were not labeled VAR, nor did match commentators identify them as such, and at no time was the footage tampered with or manipulated,” said the Mediapro statement.

“The VAR images of the incident provided by the VOR room did not reach the production control room for broadcasting until 40 minutes after the goal and were reproduced, duly labeled as “VAR – VAR Images” in minute 55:26 and in minute 62:50. As such, it is clear that the footage was not available at the time the goal was considered valid.”

In response to the RFEF criticism, the Mediapro statement pulled no punches, saying: “Those responsible for match production fulfilled their obligation to offer viewers all available information regarding what was happening on the pitch. To describe this as manipulation and accuse them of generating public concern and of demonstrating a criminal mindset is to go far beyond all limits and may be the result of the widespread criticism and comments the VAR has received due to the serious problems and delays it is experiencing this season.”

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