The video replay system (VAR) being trialled in various leagues around the world ran into more controversy on Monday when the Portuguese federation (FPF) said it had been wrongly used to disallow a goal at the weekend.
The FPF said in a statement that it had “established that there was a move in which the refereeing team misinterpreted the VAR protocol, leading to the goal to be wrongly disallowed.”
The FPF did not specifically mention the goal or game but its description matched an incident in Sporting’s 2-0 win over Feirense in the Portuguese top flight on Sunday.
Sporting forward Seydou Doumbia had a goal disallowed in the 18th minute following a VAR review because of a foul by his team mate Bruno Fernandes which happened nearly 20 seconds earlier deep in his own half.
In between the foul and the goal, Sporting lost possession to Feirense before winning the ball back — and the FPF said in a detailed explanation that the referee and video assistant should not have gone so far back.
“The VAR protocol rules that, if a team commits a foul during the attack and, as a result of this, scores a goal or wins a penalty, the… goal or penalty should be disallowed and the foul awarded,” said the FPF in a statement.
“The International Football Board (IFAB), in a recent clarification to the Portuguese referees, defined the attack as a move which goes rapidly towards the opposing goal.”
But, said the FPF, if a team passed the ball backwards or the opposition got hold of the ball as Feirense did, then anything that happened before that could no long be considered part of the same attack.
In such a case, the FPF said, “it becomes a new attack, which wipes out any fouls committed in the previous phase of the attack.”
Football’s law-making body IFAB is due to decide on March 3 whether to approve the use of VAR and FIFA has already said it wants to deploy the system at this year’s World Cup in Russia.
However, trials in various leagues have been surrounded by controversy with complaints over the time taken to make decisions and also that referees still make mistakes even after consulting the replay.
There was a bizarre incident in Portugal last week when Aves scored against Boavista from what appeared to be an offside position but VAR could not be used because the camera for that part of the pitch was covered by a fan’s flag.