The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has once against proven its potentials as a crucial technology in the 2018 World Cup as Sweden scores from a penalty given by the system to win its opening game against South Korea.
In a Monday match in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod stadium, the Swedes were initially waved away when they cried for a 65th-minute penalty after South Korea’s Kim Min-woo brought down Viktor Claesson in the box.
However, the Salvadoran referee Joel Aguilar awarded the penalty after he was called to consult the VAR system.
Sweden’s 33-year-old captain Andreas Granqvist’s goal from the spot gave the Swedes their first victory in a World Cup game since 1958.
He said the wait for deciphering Aguilar’s final decision was worth it.
“The VAR took a while but we are very pleased they had it ... I was pretty sure,” Granqvist said.
His coach Janne Andersson, however, said the penalty was “crystal-clear,” adding: “I felt the wait for VAR was unnecessary.”
It is the second time the VAR has revived a team’s chance of having a match-deciding penalty in the current World Cup, the first version of the showpiece tournament which officially uses the technology. It was also called during a Group C match between France and Australia on Saturday when the French scored from the spot with Antoine Griezmann after the referee changed his decision and awarded the penalty.
The VAR’s use in the World Cup, which came after the International Football Association Board came to a historic decision on the technology in March, has met criticism from many who insist it kills the spirit of the game.
However, the system proved its quality again during the Monday match between Sweden and South Korea. In fact, Sweden could have missed the decisive three points of the game if it was not for the system.
Granqvist relished the victory, saying it doubled the pressure on group F heavyweight Germany who lost their opening game against Mexico on Sunday.
“If we win against Germany, we are through. The pressure is on them,” said Granqvist of his team’s next match in the group that will come on June 23 in Fisht Olympic Stadium.