Forgive me, reader, for I am about to get Mad Online.
The Jamaica woman’s national team — a team with zero funding who are a miracle to even be in the tournament — gave up a penalty to Italy in the first half of their World Cup game on Friday.
The penalty call was a fair one, and verified by soccer’s version of video review — the Video Assistant Referee, otherwise known as VAR.
Fine, whatever. It was a good call, VAR confirmed it, all well and good.
What happened next was not good.
Italy’s Cristiana Girelli took the penalty, and Jamaica goalkeeper Sydney Schneider saved it. It was a fantastic save and would have kept Jamaica level. The ball went out of play for a corner kick, Italy went to take the corner kick … and then the ref paused the game.
VAR had decided that the goalie had taken a step off her line, and not only would Schneider be given a yellow card, Italy would get to retake the penalty. Girelli made the second, and Italy took a 1-0 lead.
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Sydney Schneider makes ANOTHER penalty save but gets called back for stepping off her line. Cristiana Girelli scores on the 2nd attempt and it's 1-0, Italy. #FIFAWWC pic.twitter.com/mq9pndL4Ec
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 14, 2019
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Soccer fans lost their minds at the call, and with good reason.
By next week VAR is gonna take the 1999 World Cup away from the USWNT.
— Travis Waldron (@Travis_Waldron) June 14, 2019
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She’s god damn standing there waiting for the penalty. And it’s erased over that garbage but technically correct whistle. Boooooo I say. Booooooo.
— Mike L. Goodman (@TheM_L_G) June 14, 2019
Goalkeepers are allowed to move before a penalty is taken. They can go side to side as much as they want. They are not supposed to come forward off the line, but refs will rarely call anything but the most egregious of violations. The rule is in place so goalies cant take a few steps out and cut the angle down viciously.
Schneider, as you’ll see in the video above, was perhaps six inches off her line when the penalty was taken. That’s never called. By the absolute letter of the rule, sure. But this is akin to an NBA ref going to video replay to rule on whether a player committed a lane violation on a free throw. If a guy clearly runs into the lane early and slams home a dunk, sure, call it. But if his toe is over the line? Come on.
This is a call I have seen made maybe once or twice in my entire lifetime of watching soccer, and when it was called, fans accused the refs of match-fixing.
It’s just not something a video referee should be interjecting itself into. A handball a ref didn’t have a good angle on, sure, go to video. Checking to see if a foul occurred just before the 18-yard box or after, to see if it’s a penalty, fine. Go to the replay.
A ref was standing right there, with her eyes on the goalie, when this penalty occurred though. The entire stadium was watching what happened. No one called for a retake. This wasn’t video assisting anything. This was video taking a match over.
Perhaps what’s even more frustrating is, Italy committed an infraction on the very same play.
I'm getting a lot of "she was off the line" but….wow…. pic.twitter.com/BIv5qenZk3
— Jason Davis (@davisjsn) June 14, 2019
Outfield players are not allowed to enter the 18-yard box before a penalty is taken. As you can see in the video above, an Italian player (and a Jamaican player, for that matter) have entered the box early. (Jamaica can at least argue her foot was on the line, but Italy is clearly in the box here.)
Am I saying VAR should have called it on the Italy player? No. Absolutely not. Because this is another stupid rule that’s never called, and when it is, only in the most egregious of instances. It’s just to show that there’s no way to draw the line when you get into ticky tack stuff like this. Jamaica committed at least one, possibly two infractions on this PK. Italy committed one. Are they offsetting penalties? What are we even doing here?
VAR shouldn’t be calling any of this. VAR is meant to be an assistant, turned to when the main ref couldn’t be sure about a call and wants it to be verified one way or the other. The ref watched the Jamaica keeper. Everyone saw the play. Leave VAR out of it. I refuse to believe this is what VAR was intended for.
RelatedIt would've been more disrespectful if USWNT wasn't celebrating goals in its 13-0 win