A lot to talk about
Schalke vs Manchester City is the Champions League game everyone is talking about but not necessarily about the way each team has played.
That is because there has been an awful lot of drama relating to the Video Assistant Referee.
VAR first debuted in the Champions League last week when Manchester United took on Paris Saint-Germain.
The system was not needed for any big decisions during that game but was under discussion 24 hours later when Real Madrid faced Ajax.
Ajax had a goal disallowed during the clash, which some suggested was harsh, though UEFA’s statement put that to bed,
Many took aim at VAR and questions started to be asked whether the current system was right.
A week later and we’re talking about VAR yet again after a big decision in the game between Schalke and Manchester City.
Penalty or no penalty?
Sergio Aguero put Man City 1-0 up in the 18th minute but the incident in question came when Schalke were awarded a penalty.
Nicolas Otamendi was adjudged to have handballed in the area, a decision that VAR agreed with despite taking nearly three minutes to make their mind up.
Though, many saw the decision as harsh with Otamendi attempting to move his hand out of the way.
Others suggested that the fact that the ball hit in an unnatural position still meant it was a penalty.
Otamendi clearly pulling his arm away from the ball. Never a penalty.
— Mark Ogden (@MarkOgden_) February 20, 2019
Otamendi’s hand was away from his body when ball hit it. So it’s a pen. I get argument he was trying to avoid it but he didn’t do it in time
— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) February 20, 2019
With a system that is supposed to cut out any question over a decision and judge ‘clear and obvious errors’, how can there still be so much doubt?
Regardless, Nabil Bentaleb scored the spot kick to make it 1-1, despite the drama surrounding how it was awarded.
When technology fails you
Though, the drama didn’t end there.
It was then pointed out following the penalty that the decision should not have even gone to the VAR team.
As pointed out in UEFA’s official VAR guide, the referee should have reviewed the decision himself on one of the pitchside screens after a recommendation from VAR.
This is how VAR is used says UEFA officially pic.twitter.com/dgJCGUqhEA
— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) February 20, 2019
However, that didn’t happen.
Shortly after that made waves on social media, UEFA released a statement explaining that due to a technical error, the referee couldn’t check the decision himself.
The First Schalke Penalty: the screen on pitches side didn’t work so the referee couldn’t watch it to take a decision. It was the other official monitoring from the inside that told the referee it was a penalty. A UEFA official just informed me UEFA will issue a statement later.
— Oma Akatugba (@omaakatugba) February 20, 2019
Rightly so, many suggested that in the biggest club competition in football, that isn’t good enough.
Social media reacts
Fucking dreadful, cumbersome, interfering, boring VAR again. Football’s own speed camera manages to drag another match to it’s knees. And they got it was WRONG too. Brilliant. Fuck VAR.
— Danny Baker (@prodnose) February 20, 2019
And that’s the nonsense (for me) about VAR for everything other than yes/no, out/in, on/off decisions. It’s caused a ludicrous stoppage, and it’s still a subjective decision.
— Daniel Storey (@danielstorey85) February 20, 2019
VAR is making the game better and worse at the same time. Frustrating #UCL
— Reshmin Chowdhury (@ReshminTV) February 20, 2019
Not a lot of point having VAR if refs need to take 3 mins to know if its a handball or not! Incompetency of the highest order
— Matt Le Tissier (@mattletiss7) February 20, 2019
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) 20 February 2019
That’s never a penalty. Otamendi is literally moving his arm away
— West Ham Transfers (@westhamtransfer) 20 February 2019
Wow. The pitchside screen wasn’t working for the referee tonight. He wanted to see the pen decision, but couldn’t. Is it then ok for the him to award the penalty? Is the technology really ready? Messy.
— Jake Humphrey (@mrjakehumphrey) February 20, 2019
VAR is the worst thing to happen to elite football since Roman Abramovich
— elliot ross (@FutbolsaCountry) February 20, 2019
The referee couldn’t check the pitchside screen regarding the Otamendi handball because it was faulty. He relied purely on the word of the VAR, which probably isn’t ideal for such a borderline decision
— James Robson (@jamesrobsonES) February 20, 2019
By the looks of it, VAR needs a lot of work if it is to be successful in the Champions League.