Bundesliga controversy over use of VAR

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Bundesliga controversy over use of VAR
In the picture, referee Bastian Dankert checks the VAR before ordering a penalty kick to be taken again during the match between Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
Bundesliga controversy over use of VAR
In the picture, referee Bastian Dankert checks the VAR before ordering a penalty kick to be taken again during the match between Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Only one matchday of the new Bundesliga season has passed and there have already been many controversial decisions that have put the focus on the video arbitration system (VAR).

Ex-Arbitrator Wolfgang Stark has been relieved of his duties as assistant to the VAR following the controversial decisions in Saturday’s game between VfL Wolfsburg and Schalke 04.

After the intervention of the VAR, the yellow card is shown to Matija Nastasic, Schalke, became red in the 64th minute and shortly after a red card to a Wolfsburg player went yellow.

The VAR allows a referee with access to a video screen, in constant contact with the main referee of the match, to review the important decisions of a match.

Stark, an international referee from 1999 to 2014 and with 344 Bundesliga appearances directed until 2017, would not work as an assistant to the VAR “until further notice”, according to the German Football Association (DFB).

The VAR, in its second season in the Bundesliga, was expected to work much like in the World Cup in Russia, where it was an effective tool for referees to minimize errors that could alter the course of a match.

However, its usefulness has been questioned this season.

Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann was enraged when the VAR was not used to overturn a controversial penalty when Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery fell in the area last Friday.

The coach was absolutely livid when, after Robert Lewandowski’s penalty was stopped by the goalkeeper, the system intervened to order a retake as Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben invaded the area too soon.

Lewandowski was not wrong in the repetition to put the score 2-1 before Robben scored the third goal.

“Why wasn’t the VAR used to see that it wasn’t a penalty in the first place,” Nagelsmann asked. “VAR? Where was I? The truth is, not here.

Bayern coach Niko Kovac also admitted that “he would not have taken a penalty,” adding to the controversy.

The competition leader so far, Borussia Dortmund, encouraged by their 4-1 win over RB Leipzig last week, are hoping there will be no need for a VAR when they play for Hanover 96 on Friday, a match for which they will be assisted by newcomer striker Paco Alcácer on loan from Barcelona.

“We still need time to correct some things,” said Lucien Favre, the club’s new coach, whom some are beginning to consider a candidate for the title.

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