Argentina shocked the world with their 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia yesterday. Saudi Arabia was even shocked too. In fact, the Saudis were so impressed by their team’s win that they gave their citizens a public holiday to celebrate. But many people believe Argentina were screwed over by a stupid VAR rule that really ought to be changed.
Last night, Argentina looked like they were going to breeze past Saudi Arabia like a hungry man on his way to a juicy Asado. Messi scored penalty in the 10th minute and his team of superstars, one of the favourites to win the whole tournament, were all over Saudi Arabia, scoring three goals in the first half. Two of them were ruled out, however, and Saudi Arabia got goals in the 48th and 53rd minute, putting them 2-1 up.
Though Argentina dominated the second half too, they weren’t as dominant or confident as you might expect, Copa America winners as they are, playing an opposition ranked 51 in the world. Nerves seemed to be at play as time ran out and they failed to equalise, and looked to be rushing a little.
One British journalist, who covers primarily Spanish football, however, has come to the Argentina team’s defence (or used their demise as an excuse to push a point he has long championed, take your pick) and made the bold claim that VAR is flawed. He said the rule should be to measure from the feet, not the body, and that this silly way of measuring cost Argentina dearly.
Doesn’t matter who it is, have said this loads of times. Seems absurd that it’s not the feet that define offsides. The attacker is *behind the defender by some way here. (Especially if it’s going to become automated, a chip in boot being I would guess the easiest thing). pic.twitter.com/lQZLORcjag
— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) November 22, 2022
“Doesn’t matter who it is, have said this loads of times,” Sid Lowe said. “Seems absurd that it’s not the feet that define offsides. The attacker is *behind the defender by some way here. (Especially if it’s going to become automated, a chip in boot being I would guess the easiest thing).”
Not everyone was convinced, with one Twitter user weighing in and commenting: “Why? You can play the ball with that upper part of your body” (to which another countered: “Offside law is designed to prevent advantage. There is no attacking advantage to leaning”). Another reckoned a whole other player kept the Argentine attacker onside.
Player #13 played him onside. Why is VAR looking at #12 when he is not the last defender? Makes no sense. pic.twitter.com/OSHwN4rNZ7
— ? (@manolinho89) November 22, 2022
Yet others said Argentina didn’t deserve their penalty anyway, so this was just desserts (“I feel Argentina didn’t even deserve the goal they scored,” said one).
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We imagine the debate will continue to be had, and we can’t imagine this will be the only controversial VAR call that gets made this World Cup. But then, what even is soccer if we’re not all madly debating some decision or another. Happy World Cup.