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Monday, December 10, 2018

Twitter reacts to controversial handball earning Iran a draw

VAR took center stage Monday at the World Cup, as it awarded Iran a controversial late penalty against Portugal.

Iran were awarded a penalty after video review in stoppage time of their crucial Group B match, but there were many who believed that the decision was unjust.

This was bound to be controversial. VAR is still new, and everyone is figuring out how to use it, which can lead to issues — issues that had already been put on display earlier in the game. The other issue is that the handball rule is often so vague and open to interpretation that anything can be gleaned from it. Was it deliberate? No. But if you wanted to, could you argue that the defender’s arm was in an unnatural position? You could. That’s what makes it so difficult.

For Iran, the decision made no difference — thanks to a late VAR-reviewed goal in the Spain-Morocco game, they were still eliminated from the World Cup. The decision could have major ramifications for Portugal, however. A draw meant that they finished second in the group, whereas they’d have won it had they hung on to the victory over Iran. That means they’ll be facing Uruguay in the round of 16 instead of a significantly weaker opponent in Russia.

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