If ever you needed evidence that even when video replay is right it can still be horribly wrong, yesterday’s Bundesliga match between Mainz and Freiburg should serve as just that.
The call itself in that match went about as well as VAR decisions are supposed to. At the very end of the first half, Freiburg defender Marc-Oliver Kempf’s arm deflected a Mainz cross as the ball flew into the penalty box. The referees didn’t spot the infraction in real time, but afterwards the head referee signaled that the play was under review. After checking with the replay assistant and the video monitors, the ref decided to award the penalty for the handball. Mainz midfielder Pablo de Blasis converted the spot kick, giving his team a 1-0.
Oh, but did I mention that this replay decision happened after the ref had already blown his whistle for halftime? And that most of the 22 players on the pitch had already made their way back into the locker room once the ref awarded the penalty? And that it took an entire seven minutes from the time the handball originally occurred to when de Blasis sent the resulting penalty kick into the back of the net for the refs to look at the video, determine that there was a penalty, and drag the players out of the locker room so that the technically first-half penalty could be taken in what was actually the middle of the intermission period? It was, as it sounds, a shitshow:
After filing back onto the field to restart the first half so that Mainz could take their penalty, both teams immediately returned to their locker room to resume halftime. This presumably altered the team talks were underway while the ref interrupted the break by calling everyone back to the pitch.
Predictably, Freiburg’s officials were miffed:
“It leaves a bitter taste,” Freiburg sporting director Jochen Saier said.
Speaking to Eurosport at half-time, he added that they had to “accept it with a heavy heart”.
“We were under the impression that when the referee blows for half-time that’s it,” said Saier.
The second period of halftime was also delayed when home fans TP’d the goal posts in anger—surprisingly not at the VAR decision, but in protest of the league’s decision to schedule games on Monday night (Monday games, the thinking goes, are much harder for the average fan to attend than traditional weekend afternoon ones):
It seems the Bundesliga has more than a few problems to deal with from their angry fan base. Hopefully the league will place both the decision to hold games on Monday and to use VAR under review.