Confederations Cup: Video assistant referee system 'a shambles'

Gonzalo Jara
Referee Milorad Mazic decided to only book Chile's Gonzalo Jara after the player appeared to elbow Germany's Timo Werner during the Confederations Cup final

The use of video technology at the Confederations Cup has been criticised following Germany's 1-0 victory over Chile in Sunday's final.

Chile defender Gonzalo Jara appeared to elbow Germany's Timo Werner in the face during the game, but got only a yellow card, even after the video assistant referee (VAR) system was used.

There were several contentious moments involving VAR at the tournament.

Former Arsenal defender Lee Dixon said the system was a "shambles".

"If you look at sports that use VAR - we're the laughing stock," he said on ITV.

Referees can decide whether they want help from VAR, although other officials, including the video ones, can suggest he uses the technology. If he does, he has the choice of trusting the VAR's decision or viewing the footage himself on a screen at the side of the pitch.

Referee Milorad Mazic used a pitchside screen to watch a replay of Jara's challenge on Werner, and decided it was worthy of a booking and not a sending off.

Dixon added: "I was joking: 'I bet he gives him a yellow.' It's not even a red. It's a purple. It's obvious."

Gonzalo Jara
Germany's Timo Werner was floored after it appeared he was elbowed by Chile's Gonzalo Jara

It was not the first controversial use of VAR at the tournament:

  • In Chile's semi-final win, when Portugal defender Jose Fonte appeared to foul Francisco Silva in the box, the referee did not award a penalty - or ask to see the incident again
  • In the group game between Germany and Cameroon, the referee sent off the wrong player after watching a replay, before correcting the mistake after a second viewing
  • In Mexico's group game against New Zealand, there was a long delay late in the game as the referee watched back a melee between players. He initially booked one player, before stopping the game again and booking two more

'VAR is pointless'

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey tweeted: "What on earth is going on with VAR? It's a shambles. There is a protocol in place but officials are not adhering to it."

Luis Garcia, the former Liverpool and Spain winger, tweeted: "Still not getting the VAR!! If you have to take a decision and stop the match, must be something that changes the game!!"

Former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker Stan Collymore tweeted: "Should have been a red for Jara. Wonder if the pause gave the ref the thought 'let's keep 11 v 11 in a final'. Can't be anything else!"

Danny Higginbotham, the former Stoke and Southampton defender, tweeted: "VAR will only work with factual decisions, not subjective ones. Blatant red card but when based on a ref's opinion, VAR pointless."

Video referee
Mazic looked at video evidence before handing Jara a yellow card instead of a red card

Are there times it has worked?

In the group stages, six "game-changing decisions" were made using VAR, with another 29 "major incidents" - according to Fifa's head referee Massimo Busacca. That equates to 35 times it was used in 12 games.

And there were occasions where the technology proved beneficial:

  • Pepe thought he had given Portugal the lead in their opening game with Mexico, but the referee ruled it out correctly for offside after consulting with VAR.
  • Chile's Eduardo Vargas had a goal ruled out - for a marginal, but correct offside decision - against Cameroon. He later scored a goal in the same game - which again went to VAR, but this time it was allowed.

What does Fifa say?

Speaking before the final, Fifa president Gianni Infantino said the system has been a "great success", but that work was needed on "the details" such as the speed of decisions.

"Without VAR, we would have had a different tournament and it would have been a little less fair," he added. "Thanks to VAR, we have achieved a great thing. Those big mistakes will not happen any longer.

"It will always be the referee who decides and there will always be discussions, but big mistakes will be corrected and that is a great achievement after it was asked for for so many years."

Fifa's head referee Busacca admitted "many aspects should be improved" in the VAR system.

"Every referee team in every country that is supplying officials to the World Cup needs to be working with VAR every day," he said.

"In five days, we did the VAR training for this competition. To implement more, to be at the level we need, we need time."

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