After seeing a historic win over Spain snatched away in injury time due to VAR decision, Morocco players called the review system “Bullshit” and something “That’s made to help the big teams”.
It’s easy to disregard the complaints: The late Iago Aspas goal which ensured a 2-2 draw for Spain with Morocco and a top spot finish in Group B for La Roja was allowed and rightfully so. The Celta Vigo forward was slightly onside; the VAR system helped referee Ravshan Irmatov avoid a big injustice, just what the VAR is meant to avoid.
But Morocco did have something justified to complain about. A Gerard Pique handball early in the second half which was completely ignored. A system that relies on human beings to make decisions is still prone to prejudice and mistakes, although when the bigger team is the one benefiting from it, one can’t help but feel that there’s some foul play involved.
The same can be said about the Portugal-Iran match, another affair that ended in a surprise draw, with Iran scoring a late penalty kick, getting help from VAR to earn their penalty spot opportunity.
But that wasn’t the occasion the Iranians complained about. Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to hit a player without the ball with his arm. The Paraguayan referee, Enrique Caceres reviewed the incident and decided to book the player. Was it a clear-cut red? Probably not. One could argue that the elbow-forearm was part of Ronaldo’s natural motion, not something malicious. But again, when it’s a big name involved, it seems the referees, even with VAR, tend to rule in their favor.