Monday August 21 2017
Mixed debut for VAR

Video Assistant Referees were used for the first time in Serie A this weekend, but perhaps unsurprisingly it hasn’t stopped controversies.

In the opening game of the season, Cagliari were awarded the first-ever VAR penalty in the Italian top flight, with Gianluigi Buffon saving Diego Farias’ spot kick.

Just before half-time though, Paulo Dybala latched onto a fantastic first-time through ball by Miralem Pjanic, before firing the ball into the top corner.

However, the Isolani defence claimed the Argentine had used his arm to chest down the pass, insisting that the officials consult the technology.

The system is only to be used to adjudicate the four “game changing” situations - goals, penalties, red cards and mistaken identity.

While the visitors argued Dybala’s alleged handball represented one such situation, it was not a clear error from referee Fabio Maresca.

The decision not to consult VAR immediately nonetheless stoked controversy on social media, with still images used to “prove” that the Juve forward had handled it.

Napoli and Roma’s matches passed largely without incident, but there was further video controversy on Sunday night.

Crotone were incensed when Federico Ceccherini was adjudged to have fouled Patrick Cutrone in the box, with Pierpaolo Mariani deciding to show a red card after consulting the VAR.

Torino were also incensed by a VAR decision, with Andrea Belotti flagged offside as Alex Berenguer put the ball into the net.

The technology couldn’t rule whether or not Mattia Destro had the final touch as the ball went through, as the officials erroneously didn’t let the move run to its natural conclusion.

Despite the teething problems, the man responsible for overseeing VAR in Serie A defended its debut today.

“We’re at the dawn of a new day, there were two decisions which were changed correctly and in timely fashion,” Roberto Rosetti said on Radio Uno today.

“In other situations, VAR controlled the various actions and at San Siro a play was reviewed and the situation was rightly ruled to be a refereeing error.

“As for the Torino goal, we know we’ll need an adaptation phase, that has to be respected with the goal of achieving a fairer calcio. This is year zero, clearly some situations have to be improved.”