The 2022 World Cup saw yet another night of immense group stage drama this evening as Germany found themselves eliminated in controversial fashion.
Hansi Flick‘s side ended the evening third in Group third in Group E despite beating Costa Rica 4-2 on the night. That’s because Japan – just eight days after coming from 1-0 behind to beat the Germans – did the same again to Spain to top arguably the toughest group of the lot in controversial fashion.
Spain dominated the opening 45 minutes and looked on course for another comfortable win during the break, but in typical never-say-die fashion, Hajime Moriyasu’s side came out swinging. Ritsu Doan levelled the score three minutes into the second-half, and when Ao Tanaka bundled in a quickfire second the red and white flags around the Khalifa International Stadium were aloft – but only for a few seconds.
The assistant referee on the far side flagged to rule the goal out, having judged the ball to have crossed the byline before Kaoru Mitoma was able to cut it back. But after a very lengthy VAR review, the goal was given. Replays from the host broadcast looked to show the ball crossing the line, but FIFA failed to provide any media with a definitive camera angle.
Former Premier League referee Peter Walton was, as ever, on hand to share his thoughts. And he explained why the goal was given from the angles he had been shown.
“I’m seeing the same angles as you,” Walton told ITV’s post-match coverage. “There’s a misconception in law that just because the part of the ball that is on the floor is over the line is out – well it clearly isn’t because it’s the curve of the ball. We see it often with corner kicks where it’s over the line but not quite over the line.
“In this instance, what the VAR is looking for is the evidence to suggest to the referee that the ball has clearly left the field of play and on the evidence that we’re seeing, he doesn’t have that in front of him. What I would suggest is the goal-line technology, those cameras are being used for VAR to discover whether it has left the field of play so there are angles that will show that.
“If however, a player’s boot or a player’s shin has gone over the top of the ball and they can’t see it clearly then the VAR will say to the referee: ‘I don’t have that evidence to give you, Mr Referee, stay with your on field decision’. We’ll see what pictures FIFA show us but the law is specific, the ball is still in play if the curvature of the ball breaks that line – do we have that evidence to show to the contrary? No we don’t.”
Walton added that FIFA’s decision not to share any definitive angle of the incident – an incident that effectively knocked Germany out of the World Cup – was baffling.
He continued: “Well that is very peculiar because at the start of this tournament the brief for offside decisions was that those decisions would be shown automatically to the stadium so the people in the stadium could see it. That technology is still available for the people in the stadium.
“I’m at a miss why they haven’t showed it yet, they’ve got their reasons and only time will tell. I do think the evidence will appear sooner or later whether that ball hasn’t crossed the line.”