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VAR at Euro 2020: Every decision reviewed

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Video assistant referees are at the Euros for the first-ever time, and ESPN is reviewing every full VAR review.

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“UEFA believes very much in this project,” said Roberto Rosetti, the chairman of UEFA’s referees committee. “The aim is to not only to help referees, but to help football. We are very satisfied with the results, and we are working hard to improve the system.”

There are 22 video match officials on duty at Euro 2020, all of them based centrally in a hub at UEFA’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. All 51 games will have a lead VAR, an assistant VAR and an offside VAR to make sure the game flows as well as possible.

Since UEFA started using VAR in February 2019, it has featured in 453 matches through to the 2021 Champions League final, with 139 decisions changed — one in every 3.25 matches.

Each time VAR leads to a change of decision or pitchside monitor review, it will be detailed on this page as the tournament progresses.

Total VAR overturns: 12
Leading to goals: 4
Penalties awarded: 5 (3 missed)
Goals allowed after offside: 2
Goals disallowed for offside: 4
Goals disallowed for handball: 1

12. GAME: Portugal v France, June 23

DECISION: Goal allowed after incorrect offside against Karim Benzema (France), 47th minute.

WHAT HAPPENED: Paul Pogba played Benzema through, and he expertly finished into the opposite corner. The flag went up for offside, but Benzema was shown to be marginally onside

VAR RATING: 9/10 – The value of having a dedicated offside VAR shone through again here, making a quick decision with minimal effect on the game. We just need to see the offside graphic quicker.

11. GAME: Slovakia 0-5 Spain, June 23

DECISION: Penalty awarded for a foul by Jakub Hromada (Slovakia), 9th minute.

WHAT HAPPENED: Hromada attempted to clear the ball in a chase with Koke, but he caught the Spain midfielder and sent him to the turf. It was a surprise the referee missed it, because it was a clear-cut penalty once the replays were viewed. Alvaro Morata’s penalty was then saved by Martin Dubravka.

VAR RATING: 9/10 – Perhaps could have been a little quicker in the review process, but once the referee was sent to the monitor he had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. A correct VAR intervention.

10. GAME: Finland 0-2 Belgium, June 21

DECISION: Romelu Lukaku (Belgium) goal disallowed for offside, 65th minute.

WHAT HAPPENED: Kevin De Bruyne played Romelu Lukaku in through the centre, and the striker thought he had beaten the offside trap to score the opening goal — but after a late VAR review the goal was ruled out for a marginal offside.

VAR RATING: 5/10 – This is the first goal disallowed for a marginal offside, and one where frame choice for the first touch by the player who passed the ball can change the decision. A frame earlier and Lukaku is probably onside. It’s a wake up call for those who thought these tight offside decisions were a thing of the past, just because there hadn’t been any so far in this tournament. No one likes them, but you can’t change the fact there will always be a margin upon which a decision must be made.

8, 9. GAME: Spain 1-1 Poland, June 18

DECISION: Penalty awarded for a foul by Jakub Moder (Poland), 55th minute.

WHAT HAPPENED: Moder stood on the foot of Gerard Moreno inside the area after the ball had gone. It was similar in many respects to the penalty given against David Alaba on June 17. Moreno stepped up to take the penalty but hit the post, and Morata put the rebound wide.

VAR RATING: 9/10 – Scores slightly lower than Alaba as it didn’t seem quite so clear cut, but it was still the correct decision. When a defender catches a defender with the boot fully planted on the opponent’s foot, it is very likely to be awarded as a penalty.

DECISION: Goal allowed after incorrect offside against Alvaro Morata (Spain), 25th minute.

WHAT HAPPENED: Gerard Moreno played the ball through the centre toward goal and Morata nipped in front of his defender to score from inside the six-yard box, but the offside flag went up to stifle the celebrations. However, within a matter of seconds, the VAR advised the flag was incorrect and the goal should be awarded.

VAR RATING: 10/10 – A classic VAR decision. The original camera angle made it look like Morata was offside, but he was played onside by the trailing left foot of the defender. It was a rapid VAR decision, and the subsequent images from the side angle showed it was a simple call as Morata was clearly onside when the ball was played.

7. GAME: Croatia 1-1 Slovakia, June 17

DECISION: Penalty awarded for a foul by Dejan Lovren (Croatia), 33rd minute.

WHAT HAPPENED: Jakub Jankto swung a cross into the box and Lovren jumped for the ball with Patrik Schick. Play continued for a short while before the referee stopped play so Schick could get treatment for a head injury, and that’s when the VAR advised a review as Lovren had caught his opponent in the face with his arm. The penalty was awarded, and Schick was rightly allowed to take it, and score, after the team doctors has left the pitch.

VAR RATING: 6/10 – This was the first VAR decision of the tournament that would really split opinion. Although Schick’s bloodied face clearly shows he was caught, Lovren’s challenge seemed more of a coming together as part of jumping for the ball and the defender did not throw his arm. A decision which is probably correct in law, but is it something the VAR should be getting involved with?

6. GAME: Netherlands 2-0 Ukraine, June 17

DECISION: Penalty awarded for a foul by David Alaba (Austria), 8th minute.

WHAT HAPPENED: Denzel Dumfries was just inside the area when Alaba stood on his foot while trying to make a challenge. The referee didn’t see the incident, but the VAR quickly advised a review for a penalty and Memphis Depay scored.

VAR RATING: 10/10 – It was a definite penalty and once again the review system worked perfectly. The referee needed no time at all to change his decision at the monitor and Memphis Depay scored from the spot.

5. GAME: Ukraine 2-1 North Macedonia, June 17

DECISION: Penalty awarded for handball against Daniel Avramovski (North Macedonia), 80th minute.

WHAT HAPPENED: Ukraine had a free kick on the right wing, which was played in by Ruslan Malinovskiy. Avramovski was in the wall and raised his arms when jumping, blocking the ball. Ruslan Malinovskiy saw his penalty saved by goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.

VAR RATING: 10/10 – Even though the handball law has been relaxed as of this tournament, Avramovski clearly raised his arm high and blocked the free kick. The referee had little option but to award the penalty when being asked by the VAR to review the incident on the pitchside monitor. It was the first time the monitor had been used at Euro 2020.

4. GAME: Italy 3-0 Switzerland, June 16

DECISION: Giorgio Chiellini (Italy) goal disallowed for handball, 19th minute.

WHAT HAPPENED: Chiellini went up to meet a corner, and after the ball ricocheted off a defender and his own body he fired in from close range. However, it was shown the ball had brushed his arm as it dropped to the ground and the VAR disallowed the goal.

VAR RATING: 10/10 – It was a quick and correct decision. The ball definitely hit the attacking player’s arm before he scored, and intent is irrelevant. There has been a tweak to the attacking handball law for this tournament, in that only the goal scorer can be penalised for the offence. So if the ball had dropped to a teammate to score, the goal would have counted.

3. GAME: Finland 0-1 Russia, June 16

DECISION: Joel Pohjanpalo (Finland) goal disallowed for offside, 3rd minute.

WHAT HAPPENED: Joel Pohjanpalo thought he had given Finland an early lead with a flying header, but he was adjudged to be just offside from Jukka Raitala’s cross. Finland went on to lose the game 1-0.

VAR RATING: 9/10 – UEFA was quicker to display the final offside image, but it still took 4 minutes to show Pohjanpalo was clearly offside.

2. GAME: France 1-0 Germany, June 15

DECISION: Kylian Mbappe (France) offside in the build-up to Karim Benzema goal, 85th minute.

WHAT HAPPENED: Paul Pogba played a through-ball to Mbappe, who unselfishly squared for Benzema to calmly sidefoot home. But a VAR review showed that Mbappe was in advance of the last defender and France had a second goal chalked off, but it didn’t affect the result.

VAR RATING: 9/10 – A carbon copy of the disallowed Switzerland goal three days earlier. Mbappe was certainly offside, but the first VAR image broadcast by UEFA was unclear it wasn’t until nine minutes after the “goal” was scored that viewers were shown the definitive evidence.

1. GAME: Wales 1-1 Switzerland, June 12

DECISION: Mario Gavranovic (Switzerland) goal disallowed for offside, 85th minute.

WHAT HAPPENED: Breel Embolo helped the ball on to Gavranovic inside the six-yard box, and he finished well past goalkeeper Danny Ward. The Swiss celebrated what they thought was a late winner, only for the VAR to rule it out for offside.

VAR RATING: 9/10 – Definitely the correct decision. Gavranovic was just ahead of the last defender when Embolo played the ball and VAR came to Wales’ rescue. However, UEFA’s lack of transparency in broadcasting the final VAR offside image loses it a point.


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