VAR Review Costs Raúl García A Decisive Penalty Against Valencia
The VAR system was introduced into the world of football to help referees get calls right. Football is played at such a quick pace that it’s very difficult to analyze what actually happens in the blink of an eye and the Video Assistant Referee has the ability to watch replays and alert the referee on the field that something needs to be reviewed. But what about when VAR gets it wrong? That’s exactly what happened to Athletic Club on Sunday against Valencia.
In the early moments of the first half Raúl García got the ball in the box and Mouctar Diakhaby slid in to make a tackle. García fell to the ground and immediately started gesturing for a penalty as the referee told him to get up. To be fair, in real time it looked as though it was a good tackle and that the midfielder was trying to get something out of it. Then the replay was shown.
It was clear that Diakhaby never made contact with the ball and his slide tackle took Raúl García’s legs out. Play continued for over two minutes before there was a stoppage and VAR alerted the referee on the field that the challenge was under review. At the moment it seemed that it was a clear penalty based on the replay, however the referee chose not to go review the play for himself and a penalty was not given.
When it comes to football, or any sport for that matter, there are always calls or missed calls that can change the outcome of matches. Had Athletic been awarded the penalty and scored, perhaps they would’ve gone on to win the game, or maybe it wouldn’t have made any difference at all. The decision, whether to give the penalty or not, affected the rest of the game. VAR exists to get these calls right and in this situation that didn’t happen.
After the game manager Gaizka Garitano didn’t want to talk about it. “I didn’t see the replay of what happened to Raúl García”, he answered when asked. “I can’t evaluate it until I see it”. Yeray, on the other hand, thought it was a clear penalty. “He played the ball and the defender hit his leg. The referee didn’t want to look at it”, said the defender.
In these moments it’s important to realize that you can’t go back and change what happened. Playing the “ifs” and “buts” game doesn’t help anyone. The penalty wasn’t given and you have to move on and keep playing. That being said, this moment did affect the game. In the end, Valencia deserved to win the match because Athletic had one of their most unconvincing performances under Garitano. Had the penalty been given it might have been a completely different story, but it wasn’t, so now it’s all eyes on Espanyol.