VAR, offside and confusion… What was this crazy end to the match against Tunisia?

From our Special Envoy in Doha,

According to friend Claude Le Roy, on the set of L’Equipe du soir Wednesday, a few hours after the defeat of the Blues against Tunisia, the French Football Federation is on the verge of triggering a war of civilizations with the Arab world, just that. In question, according to the White Wizard, the complaint made by the body to FIFA after the cancellation of the goal of Antoine Griezmann after the end of additional time. Indeed, at the time of writing, the Blues are doing the same to officially contest the decision of New Zealand referee Matthew Conger, considering that he was guilty of a gross fault of regulation and that the goal of Grizou is indeed valid. And indeed, even though the Tunisians held there the very first victory in their history against the Blue, sorry friends, but the man in black made a big mistake.

We replay the scene in rewind before analyzing it: After a center from Tchouaméni pushed back with a header by the Tunisian defender, the French number 7 is on the fall of the ball and equalizes with a volley from the right. Outpouring of joy on the French side, hands on hips on the Tunisian side, even scenes in the stands depending on whether you are for one team or another, and return to the central circle. The referee then whistled a first whistle, synonymous with a throw-in for the Carthage Eagles before, barely a few seconds later, whistling three times for the end of hostilities. The players begin to clap their hands, the TV cameras enter the lawn, the staffs and the substitutes do the same and TF1 closes the evening and releases a page of advertising. So far, so good.

But what we hadn’t seen was that the referee in the central circle is holding his earpiece and pouting fifteen meters long. Alerted by the VAR referees, he finally decides to go and watch the images and sanction the French goal with an offside from Antoine Griezmann. The players are therefore encouraged to return to the field and, without knowing why there either, while on the first Tunisian dismissal he had whistled immediately, Mr. Conger finally lets play three additional minutes for a total of 12 minutes additional time, before definitively whistling the end of the match. In short, anything big. At the time, we are not going to lie to you, we did not think of crying foul. Especially since the Blues were guaranteed to finish first in their group and we were in a hurry to end this game of mortal boredom.

VAR, yes, but much too late

It was only later that our colleagues from RMC published a paper claiming that the referee had no right to return to the VAR, since he had restarted the game. Indeed, what does the article say? 1.10 of the VAR protocol? That “if play has been stopped and resumed, the referee will not be able to conduct a review, except in the case of mistaken identity or potential ejection related to violent behavior, spitting, biting or extremely offensive, insulting and/or abusive act”, which is not the case here.

At a press conference, Didier Deschamps feels that there is a wolf. “I am awaiting an answer on the regulations. The referee whistled the kick-off and the end of the match. Does he have the right to come back? I discussed with him. I asked him. I am waiting for an answer”, declared the coach before asking the journalists present in the room, laughing if they did not have “the number of (Pierluigi) Collina”, the president of the commission of referees of FIFA.

The man with the shiny skull and the steely gaze will indeed have to look into the question since the FFF filed a complaint in the hours following the meeting. In fact, it is difficult to see how the authority could not accede to the French request and effectively validate the goal. Whatever his decision, it will not change the destinies of either team. But imagine it happened in a knockout match, hello la polemica del diablo!

Was Griezmann really offside?

And since the atmosphere is contested and we love looking for the big beast, we could also talk about the referee’s decision to cancel Grizou’s goal. It’s true what, where was there offside on this action? When the ball leaves Tchouaméni’s foot, the Atlético player is in an offside position, no doubt about it. Except that Griezmann does absolutely no game action and in no way interferes with the defender’s ability to play the aerial duel, as he will explain at the end of the match at the microphone of TF1.

“I told him (to the referee) that I had no intention of playing the center, but the defender misses his gesture and that’s why I take it back”. For a player to be effectively flagged, he must be flagged, according to IFAB Law 11.2, only “when he begins to take an active part in the game, taking advantage, because he plays the ball or interferes with an opponent after the ball has been deliberately saved by an opponent”.

Griezmann is well offside at the start of the action, on that everyone agrees. – TF1 screenshots
But at no time is it active in action or interfering with the defender's ability to play the aerial duel.
But at no time is it active in action or interfering with the defender’s ability to play the aerial duel. – TF1 screenshots

It is on this last notion, that of rescue, that the referee could hang on to justify his decision. Indeed, this summer the IFAB decided to make the distinction between deliberate action and rescue. In the example that interests us, for those who are still following, the referee considered that Talbi had made a save rather than a deliberate action such as a pass or clear. As always, everything is subject to interpretation as can be seen with the analysis in The Team of former referee Saïd Enjimi who explains that he himself is “not sure” but “thinks that the goal could have been granted. »

What is good in the end is that by planting himself in the great widths with his story of the (not) final whistle, Mr. Conger makes our job easier: the call to the VAR was no longer possible, the goal should have been validated, thank you, good evening. It remains to know the real motivations of the Blues with this official claim. We can hardly imagine them wanting to replay the match, three days before an eighth final against Poland. It should certainly be seen more as a symbolic action, with apologies from FIFA and all the fuss, so that it does not happen again in a knockout match which, be certain, would have far more problematic repercussions.

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