Since the introduction of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) into football at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, the technology has gradually become one of the main talking points in professional football. The technology has been incorporated in some major football competitions since its 2017 debut; however it has not been without controversies. VAR decisions have caused a few controversies in the English FA Cup and League Cup games this season, and now, the UEFA Champions League.
The UCL’s governing body had earlier announced that it would allow the use of VAR in the competition from next season, but then, they decided to bring it forward and start using VAR from the knockout stages of this season’s completion. And the technology has definitely hit the ground running – with controversies of course.
We saw the first use of Video Assistant Referees during the first round of UEFA Champions League knockout stage games a few weeks ago and as expected, there was one or two controversial calls made. However, VAR really took the shine some of the return leg games played last week. Let’s look at some of the times VAR have made controversial decisions in this season’s UCL.
- Most notable among these controversial decisions came in the PSG vs Manchester United game in Paris. A late injury-time penalty given to the English giants after a lengthy VAR review made the difference and eventually caused PSG to get knocked out of the competition.
- Similarly, a late VAR-given penalty call in another game led to the early exit of Italian club, Roma from the competition. Roma were level 3-3 on aggregate against FC Porto before the penalty call was given against them in injury time, causing them to fall behind at 3-1 in that game and eventually crash out on a 4-3 aggregate score.
- In the first leg matches, Atletico Madrid had a case when VAR ruled out a goal scored by Alvaro Morata during their match against Juventus.
- While Manchester City were on the receiving end of an unfavourable Video Assistant Referee review when a penalty was given against them after review during their match away at Schalke.
- Then VAR’s very first UCL controversial decision came in the first leg of the Ajax Vs Real Madrid game. Ajax had thought they had opened the scoring in that match but the Video Assistant Referees of the day had another opinion. They chalked off the goal and eventually, Ajax fell to a 2-1 defeat at home. However, VAR could not do anything to stop the stunning 4-1 victory the Dutch team recorded at the Spanish capital last week.
As the remaining Round of 16 second leg games kick off tonight, let’s see if there will be any more controversial VAR calls made.