Complaints about VAR are usually related to players being millimetres offside or how it’s “killing the game” and should be taken away, however Saturday night’s World Cup qualifier between Portugal and Serbia was shrouded in controversy for precisely the opposite reason: the lack of VAR technology.
The fallout from Portugal‘s 2-2 draw with Serbia in qualifying for Qatar 2022 has been massive, after Cristiano Ronaldo was denied a stoppage time goal which clearly crossed the line and would have given his side all three points. It’s a decision which would have almost definitely been altered by VAR or goal-line technology.
Why don’t we have VAR or goal-line in World Cup qualifiers?
The answer is quite simple. Due to the fact that not all stadia involved in the qualifiers are equipped to use VAR or goal-line technology, it was deemed unfair to use it in some stadiums and not others, so the decision was taken by football’s governing bodies to not use it in any qualifiers to ensure a level playing field.
Frustrated Portugal head coach Fernando Santos has demanded that VAR be used in qualifying matches following his side’s draw on Saturday.
“The referee apologised and I have great respect for him, but it is not permissible that, in a competition like this, there is no VAR or goal-line technology,” Santos told A Bola.
“The ball was half a metre inside the goal, there was no obstacle between the goalkeeper and the goal line. It was very clear.”
Spain’s VAR frustration vs Greece
These comments follow similar frustration from the Spanish national team over a lack of technology at matches after their draw with Greece in Granada.
Greece were awarded a controversial penalty which was enough for them to take a point from the match.
Spain defender Inigo Martinez made his feelings clear after the game.
“Obviously, I’m really angry,” he said.
“It’s a moment that they make you pay for. We’re not happy with the draw and with VAR it would’ve been a different story.”
So, the VAR controversy rumbles on. However, the inability of many smaller nations to afford to install such technology in stadiums means that players and coaches are going to have to accept that there is unlikely to be video refereeing in this competition any time soon.