Cagliari director Marcello Carli was absolutely furious after Napoli were awarded a controversial last-gasp penalty. “They’re turning VAR into a joke.”
The Sardinians had taken the lead through Leonardo Pavoletti, then a Dries Mertens header equalised, but deep into stoppages a penalty was awarded for Fabrizio Cacciatore’s handling offence right on the outside line of the area.
The VAR booth had to alert the referee, who then went to view it again and opted for the spot-kick, converted by Lorenzo Insigne.
“The truth is that nobody cares if this happened to us. Nobody cares if an absurd penalty is awarded,” Cagliari director of sport Carli told Sky Sport Italia.
“How can they understand if it is inside the area or not? The arm is outside. But in any case, if we want to make VAR a joke, then continue like that.
“I believe VAR is an extraordinary tool, but a point for Cagliari is life and death. Life and death. How did the scientist in the VAR booth invent a penalty out of nowhere? Either things are clear or don’t bother, because there was no way they would’ve given that against Napoli, because the media would’ve made a drama out of it.
“I get the feeling people want to use VAR for the tiniest detail simply to justify their existence. If it’s a clear-cut situation, fine, but 30 seconds from the end awarding a penalty for 1cm is just stupid.”
The VAR booth have grids that can tell precisely whether the ball struck the arm on the line, but replays show it was a matter of millimetres.
Once the referee was advised via his earpiece that there was a situation he should look at, he only had to decide if it was intentional handball.
“I feel like we’re being taken for a ride and there are these boys in the dressing room who are devastated. If you want us to make a show to create the media controversy, then I can put on a show for you, but otherwise nobody cares about Cagliari or the other smaller clubs,” continued Carli.
“So I am furious both with the referee and the VAR, because they called him to go and view something pretty absurd and that put the official in a tricky position, as once he called him over, he felt obliged to give the penalty.
“If this happened in for example a Champions League Final, what would’ve happened? To Cagliari, every point is like a Champions League Final.
“If it’s just the referee, he can make a mistake, that’s fine, but the VAR is hunting for a needle in a haystack to make his mark on the game. It was never a clear and obvious error, because even after seven days of examining that you couldn’t tell if it was in the box or not.”
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