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Women’s World Cup: ‘Referees using VAR as comfort blanket’ – officials frustrate BBC pundits

Alexandra Popp’s opening goal for Germany in their 3-0 win over Nigeria caused controvery its is being checked by VAR’ is a term that is starting to bring a sense of deja vu.

When there is so much talk about video assistant referees than anything else at a World Cup,then you know that there might be a problem with how the system is being used.

So many Controversy dominated the group stages of the Women’s World Cup in France and VAR continued to take centre stage in Germany’s last-16 victory over Nigeria on Saturday as the two-time world champions were awarded a penalty.

In this case, while the decision might have been correct, many qustioned why there was any need to use technology for what they saw as an obvious foul by Evelyn Nwabuoku on Lina Magull.

The referees are using it as a comfort blanket,” former England defender Laura Bassett said on BBC Two.

We were at the other end of the pitch and it was clear to us it was reckless and obviously a penalty. It is not good enough. That is not what VAR is there for. It is not the game we all love.

Her views were echoed by Manchester United Women manager Casey Stoney, who said VAR is “ruining the game” and “hasn’t worked in this tournament.

The referee has to see this. If you are in a good position, you can see that is a penalty. You should not need to go to VAR for that to be given and waste even more time. I’m questioning the ability of the officials in this tournament,” Stoney added.

Where are these referees doing their job week in, week out? It needs to be the best person for the job to give these players an opportunity to play their football. I want to talk about the football, not the VAR decisions.

Germany’s Sara Dabritz converted from the spot, that goal coming seven minutes after Alexandra Popp’s opener was allowed to stand by referee Yoshimi Yamashita despite Svenja Huth appearing to interfere with play while in an offside position.

The decision sent Stoney – and social media – into a frenzy as the former England centre-back questioned how the referee could allow the goal to stand.

I think it is poor refereeing. It’s the interpretation,” said Stoney. Anything that is interfering is offside. We had another stop of over two minutes and we still didn’t get the right decision.

‘They are ruining the art of defending’
It wasn’t the first time the interpretation of offside has been questioned at the World Cup.

There was controversy in Australia’s thrilling 3-2 win over Brazil when defender Monica’s unfortunate own goal was eventually awarded by VAR, with an offside Sam Kerr controversially judged not to have been interfering.

The same debate arose after the win over Sweden as substitute Carli Lloyd was offside in the build-up to another deflected own goal – again, allowed to stand.

Stoney, who said she “genuinely can’t understand what is happening in this tournament”, was critical of both goals, as well as Alexandra Popp’s opener for Germany.

And Bassett added that VAR was “ruining the art of defending”.

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