Australia’s defeat to France was overshadowed by a VAR controversy and an incident in Argentina’s draw with Iceland highlighted the problem with the replay system.
It’s still run by humans – and nothing is infallible.
World Cup referee Andres Cunha used VAR to overrule his non-decision in a penalty incident involving Socceroos defender Josh Risdon and French star Antoine Griezmann.
After initially letting play continue, the VAR was in Cunha’s ear and a check of multiple replays changed the whistleblower’s mind.
Griezmann scored and, despite an equaliser from a much less controversial spot kick by Australia, France went on to win.
Watch the Risdon-Griezmann decision:
But that wasn’t the case for Argentina.
Level at 1-1 with Iceland in their World Cup opener, the South American side battled hard to find a winner but couldn’t do so.
Cristian Pavon thought they might have had a case for a penalty when he was taken down by a rival defender.
He appealed immediately but referee Szymon Marciniak ran straight over to the Argentine substitute and appeared to explain that he spotted a dive, gesturing with his right arm.
Watch the Pavon complaint in the video player at the top of the page
For whatever reason, the VAR never intervened to suggest Marciniak should review his decision – confusing fans who had also watched the Australian game.
We’ve seen both good use of VAR (Griezmann pen FRA) and bad use of VAR ( Pavon appeal ARG) already today. Officials can always hide behind the “clear and obvious” get out of jail card. The outcome still is large inconsistencies. #FifaWorldCup2018
— Graeme Le Saux (@graemelesaux14) June 16, 2018
When does the VAR get round to reviewing the trip on Pavón, then?
— Sam Kelly (@HEGS_com) June 16, 2018
Main problem of the VAR: the inconsistency when it comes to "grey" decisions. There was the same contact with Pavon‘s leg, but there the ref didn’t look at the scene. https://t.co/r9pm1fTlnS
— Alex Truica (@AlexTruica) June 16, 2018
'Underdog nations' vs 'Big Football Nations'#AUS couldn't quite hold #FRA thanks to two moments of tech (VAR & GLT)#ISL do get a point against #ARG because tech isn't used for obvious error (VAR, Pavon)
— Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) June 16, 2018
All this stuff about VAR…. in the Argentina-Iceland game, Pavon gets chopped down in the box, a penalty all day long…. ref waves it away & there’s not even a suggestion of a VAR influence…?!? So far there are more questions than answers as far as VAR is concerned…
— Rodney McCain (@RodneyMcCain) June 17, 2018
Yes Risdon’s toenail scraped Fraudmann’s Achilles, but he’d lost control of the ball and pushed it to the keeper. Why wasn’t this considered in the VAR? Why wasn’t Pavon getting taken out reflected upon? #WorldCup #GoSocceroos
— Baby B (@JBaltsz) June 17, 2018
It was the grey area of VAR that confused Socceroos players addressed after their defeat.
“I was pretty confident, to be fair,” Josh Risdon said about the call that went against him.
“I knew I had clipped the ball and I thought that was going to be enough but obviously it wasn’t. I haven’t really seen the replays but I think he clipped my trailing leg.
“But there’s not much we can do about it, just focus on the positives. I don’t think that it was a clear-cut wrong decision, so it seems to be a bit of a grey area there but we can’t do much about it now.”
Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan also questioned what on the field can or should be overturned.
“On the replays I have seen it didn’t look conclusive,” he said.
“You hear that technology was brought in to take out clear-cut errors and all this in the game but that’s the grey area: what’s a clear-cut error and what’s not? What’s conclusive and what’s not?