FIFA World Cup 2018: All VAR calls and decisions in Russia

FIFA World Cup 2018: All VAR calls and decisions in Russia

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) made its World Cup debut in Russia and thus far has attracted praise and criticism in an almost equal measure.

A screen shows a VAR interruption during the group C match between Denmark and Australia at the 2018 World Cup. (Source: AP)

1) England Vs Tunisia – Group G (Penalty not given)

First incident: Ferjani Sassi, who had scored from a debatable penalty four minutes earlier for Tunisia, appeared to grab Harry Kane in the penalty area and wrestle him to the floor from an England free-kick. A review was initiated but no penalty awarded.

Second incident: It appeared that Kane was being pulled to the pitch by Yassine Meriah in 52nd minute during an England corner. VAR checked the situation and penalty was not given.

2) France vs Australia Group C (Penalty given)

France forward Antoine Griezmann was challenged by Josh Risdon. Referee Andres Cunha waved play on but, after play continued for about 20 seconds, he stopped the game and headed to the review screen by the dugouts, before awarding the penalty. Griezmann converted to set France on their way to a win.

3) Peru vs Denmark – Group C (Penalty given) 

In the 44th minute in Saransk, Christian Cueva went down in the area under a challenge from Yussuf Poulsen. Referee Bakary Gassama waved play on but eventually blew the whistle after play continued for about 23 seconds. He consulted a review screen and penalty was awarded for Peru. Cueva couldn’t cash in though and sent the ball over the bar.


4) Brazil vs Switzerland – Group E (Penalty not given)

Brazil were leading their Group E opener with Switzerland when they felt defender Miranda was pushed as Steven Zuber headed in a 50th-minute equaliser. The Brazilians also felt Gabriel Jesus was manhandled inside the Switzerland penalty area later in the second half, but neither incident appeared to be reviewed by VAR. The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) later asked Fifa the reason the technology was not used in key incidents during the game.

5) Sweden vs South Korea – Group F (Penalty given)

The game appeared to be drifting towards a goalless draw in Nizhny Novgorod when Viktor Claesson fell under a Kim Min-woo challenge in the Korean penalty area in the 65th minute. Referee Joel Aguilar initially allowed play to go but called a halt moments later. He looked at the incident again on the pitch-side screen and about 90 seconds later Andreas Granqvist scored the penalty that was awarded.

6) Denmark vs Australia – Group C (Penalty given)

A cross towards Mathew Leckie was blocked by the arm of Youssuf Poulsen. Referee didn’t spot it at first but then VAR communicated that he should reverse his decision as it was a clear penalty. To add salt to wound, a yellow card was also given to Poulsen for his transgression. Mile Jedinak converted and Australia got an equaliser in the 38th minute. The match ended in a draw.

7) Brazil vs Costa Rica – Groupe E (Penalty called off)

Referee Bjorn Kuipers gave a penalty to Brazil in the 78th minute when Neymar went down after Giancarolo Gonzalez leaned in on him. Kuipers then went to the VAR screen to take a look. When he came back on to the pitch, he had bad news for Brazil – the penalty had been wiped out. There was minimal contact and Neymar had clearly dived.

8) Nigeria vs Argentina – Group D (Penalty called off)

Argentine defender Marcus Rojo tried to clear the ball coming inside the box with a header. But he could only deflect the ball towards his own arm. The referee was quick to settle down the appeals from Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo, for a handball, but on VAR’s insistence, he decided to double check the action. In just a quick closer, the referee decided to stick with his decision, and no penalty was given.

9) Iran vs Portugal – Group B (Penalty given, Red Card Not given)

First Incident: Cristiano Ronaldo was challenged inside the box by Iranian defender Saeid Ezatolahi in the first five minutes of the second half. The referee, at Enrique Caceres, first, decided to wave away the penalty appeals, but later decided to check the VAR review. He later decided to change his mind and signalled for a penalty, which Ronaldo failed to convert.

Second incident: In another incident involving Ronaldo, the referee decided to check replays after a challenge on Iranian player Morteza Poraliganji. The referee decided to refer to VAR to check if it was an arm conact. After several reviews, the referee handed him a yellow card, even though it looked like Ronaldo caught him with an arm on face.

Third incident: In the dying minutes of the match, Iranian striker Sardar Azmoun headed a ball downwards from a close range on Cedric Soares arms. The referee decided to take a VAR review after appeals from Iranian players and ruled it as a penalty.

10) Spain vs Morocco – Group B (Offside ruled out)

Spanish midfielder Iago Aspas scored an equaliser for Spain in the 91st minute to level the score at 2-2. Iranian players appealed for an offside, forcing the referee to take a closer look at it. The video replays showed that Morocco’s Mbark Boussoufa played Aspas on and the goal was allowed. But what the video referee failed to note was that the corner, which led to the goal, was supposed to be taken from the left, but was actually taken from the right.

11) Mexico vs Sweden – Group F (Penalty not given)

At the half hour mark in a crucial game, Sweden appealed for a penalty for a handball by Mexico’s Javier Hernandez in the box. Argentine referee Nestor Pitana refused the pleas for the West Ham striker to be penalised and, after consulting the VAR, stood by the initial decision. However, Sweden would get a penalty later in the game and go on to win 3-0 and progress into the last-16.

12) South Korea vs Germany – Group F (decision reversed, goal awarded)

Defending champions Germany were bundled out of the World Cup as curse of the champions struck again. Things got sour for Germany with VAR awarding a goal to South Korea which had initially been denied for offisde. When Heung-min Son’s corner came off a number of players on its way to Young-Gwon Kim at the back post who fired past Manuel Neuer. Referee Mark Geiger initially disallowed the goal, claiming it was offside, but after inspection from the VAR team it turned out that the ball had come off Niklas Sule on its way to Kim and the decision was correctly overturned.

13) Switzerland vs Costa Rica – Group E (offside denies penalty appeal)

In the closing stages of Switzerland’s draw with Costa Rica, The Ticos asked for a penalty after Bryan Ruiz was felled in the area. Upon deployment of VAR, however, it was deemed that Ruiz was in an offside position when receiving the ball, which meant a free-kick was awarded to Switzerland.

14) Senegal vs Colombia – Group H (penalty denied)

In the first half of Senegal’s Group H game against Colombia, Senegal striker Sadio Mane was through on goal when Davison Sanchez made a last ditch challenge. Referee Milorad Mazic immediately called for a penalty, but VAR team advised the official to watch a replay himself. Mazic didn’t need long, however, to see that Sanchez had taken a huge chunk of the ball first and reversed his decision.

15) Spain vs Russia – Round of 16

In extra-time, Spain appeal for a penalty after an apparent foul on Sergio Ramos. Referee didn’t give it and VAR upheld his decision. As it turned out, Ilya Kutepov did have contact with Ramos but the latter had locked arms with him and held his shirt and hence, he was just as guilty

16) Sweden vs Switzerland – Round of 16

Referee initially gave Sweden a penalty after Martin Olsson was pushed on the back by Michael Lang. But VAR tells him that the transgression may have taken place outside the box. Referee changes his decision to a free kick.


17) France vs Croatia – Final

Blaise Matuidi attempted to flick on the bal after it came out from a corner kick and it was seemingly cleared by Ivan Perisic. But the French players ran behind the referee claiming hand ball. VAR takes a look and the referee later goes on to check on the pitchside monitor. As it turned the ball had indeed hit Perisic’s hands and he points to the spot. But it is to be noted that Perisic did not move his hand towards the ball and nothing about it looked intentional.