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The Women's World Cup has a referee problem



Photo: Robert Cianflone ​​(Getty Images)

Regardless of what our adorable commentary may believe, we have no quota here at Deadspin To meet anti-VAR posts. If it feels like that during the Women's World Cup, it's just because FIFA has put its referees in a terrible position, through the casual negligence that is typical of the treatment of women's games, and has come up with a series of new rules and technologies, of which VAR is only the most noticeable.

On June 1, FIFA officially launched its annual rule changes. Two of the changes have had a particularly strong impact on the World Cup: the goalkeeper's penalty kick goal line and the new handball definition.

The new rule was for goalkeepers in penalties and the aggravating decision to subdue them VAR review is, as I said, very bad. The rule itself seems pointless – has anybody in the world really lost their minds when goalies who already have a big disadvantage on penalties went "too far" forward to save? – but whatever. Applying the rule so rigorously and verifying it through video playback is a borderline crime. Goalkeepers who have been training all their lives to defend against a series of rules have had to completely adjust their approach to the biggest tournament of their lives, after barely receiving a message.

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As we've already seen, the new goal rule has pulled its ugly head backwards in at least two games in the World Cup, in which both Nigeria and Scotland fell victim. Both teams saw that their opponents missed only one penalty when VAR noticed the feet of their goalkeepers were too far over the line. Both teams suffered as their opponents scored in their second attempt.

The new handball rule has changed a bit in this tournament as well. The updated language used to eliminate the ambiguity of the rule has resulted in the referee being penalized almost every time a ball hits a defender's arm in the penalty area. The stricter rule, in turn, with the distorting effect of slow VAR repetitions, has resulted in soft handball penalties that are less than fair.

How could this be avoided? The most obvious solution would have been to introduce these new rules after the summer tournaments. Why should you test things in a tournament that takes place every four years, rather than in the smaller leagues of the home leagues? Both in terms of what the new rules change (the damned World Cup) and the spotlight of a global audience, it made more sense to make that change easy, for example, on 1 August.

Of course, if for some reason FIFA were unwilling to implement the rules, the next logical decision would be to have no VAR at the World Cup. That would also have its own problems. Love it or (if you're smart) hate it, VAR is now a reality of global football. Even the Premier League, the last high-profile event, will launch the VAR next season. (Fortunately, they leave the "off-the-line" rules to the referees on the field, not the VAR.) Women's players and coaches also pushed for the inclusion of VAR this summer for the sake of fairness, as it was used by the men World Cup last year.

What messed up FIFA on this front was VAR's implementation this summer. While the recording campaign began last year, FIFA did not approve the VAR until March 15 this year for the Women's World Cup. This meant that the referees had been training with the technology just months before the tournament, as VAR had not been used in the women's football league or at international tournaments before the World Cup.

This is clearly reflected in the confusion of use Due to the long delays in the game and widespread dissatisfaction with their presence, FIFA made a mistake in using VAR for women's games for the first time this summer. If FIFA had handled this correctly, it would have first familiarized the major league referees with VAR or, if that had not been possible, would have tested the system in a number of other international competitions and friendly tournaments.

It should be noted that few women's leagues could possibly afford, if at all, anything needed to implement VAR, and that women's games have fewer high-profile non-world championship tournaments to try in the international arena Game. Treating the Women's World Cup as a guinea pig for VAR in women's football, when the question of VAR's implementation in women's football has been predictable for years, is the worst solution. If you want to do VAR, you have to at least try to get it right.

FIFA listened (belatedly) to calls for VAR at the World Cup and gave its unprepared referees the unwarranted responsibility to implement new rules that were officially announced six days before the first game of the tournament. These changes were made under the name of equality, but it is hard to imagine FIFA making similarly dramatic changes as happen by chance in a men's World Cup. FIFA has persuaded its referees to fail at the Women's World Cup. All this in the name of technology that nobody fully understands and that nobody really likes.


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