“Collina’s heirs” appease: Even the VAR could not save Bayern

“Collina’s heirs” appease
Even the VAR could not save the Bavarians

By Alex Feuerherdt

In Munich, after the game between FC Bayern and Union Berlin, there are some discussions about the throw-in that resulted in the equalizer for the guests to make it 1-1. Meanwhile, the referee has to make several delicate decisions in the game between Hertha BSC and Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Throw-ins are usually not a topic of conversation in football, because unlike penalty kicks, free kicks and corner kicks, they rarely result in a goal threat. After all, according to the rules and regulations, a goal cannot be scored directly from a throw-in, and specialists who throw the ball from the sideline in front of the opponent’s casing in a similarly promising manner as others do with crosses with their feet are rare. In the review of the game between FC Bayern Munich and 1. FC Union Berlin (1: 1), however, there were exceptionally discussions about this mostly harmless continuation of the game, which in this case was the starting point for the equalizer of the guests shortly before the end.

In the 85th minute, Munich’s Benjamin Pavard had the ball in a duel with Cedric Teuchert halfway between the center line and his own goal into the touch. The Berliner grabbed the ball and quickly threw it into the Munich penalty area, where Robert Andrich ran into it, who had hurried Tanguy Nianzou and now placed the ball on Marcus Ingvartsen, who pushed it into the record champions’ goal. The Bavarians had been taken by surprise by the rapid execution of the throw-in. None of them protested, but the television images raised the question of whether the two aspects of the rules could not have been correct.

Wrong throw-in in front of Union’s equalizer?

On the one hand, it seemed as if Teuchert had raised his right leg during the throwing movement, so he only made the throw-in standing on one foot. That would be irregular because the rules stipulate that the player throwing in must “have part of each foot touching the sideline or the ground outside the sideline”. If this is not the case, the opposing team may take the throw-in. However, still images of the moment the ball left Teuchert’s hands – thus completing the throw-in – suggest that the front of the right foot was still on the ground at that point. That would have complied with the rules.

But even with a false throw-in, the video assistant should not have intervened. According to the VAR protocol, throw-ins, free kicks, corner kicks, kicks and kicks are not checked to see whether they were executed correctly – even if a goal is subsequently scored. In order to limit the number of interventions and thus the number of game interruptions, the rulers of the International Football Association Board (Ifab) decided when the video assistant was introduced to exclude these game continuations from the review. After all, they are “no game-changing decisions and should be recognized by the referees themselves,” says the Ifab manual for the VAR.

Was the ball out of bounds at all?

Looking at Teuchert’s throw-in, however, another question arose: Did the ball even completely cross the sideline? Or had the Berliner taken the ball in his hands even though it was still partly on the field? The television images did not provide any unequivocal information in this regard, but suggested that the ball was not yet out of bounds. Assuming that it really would have been like this: Then there should have been a direct free kick for Bayern because of handball. But would that also have meant that the video assistant was entitled, even obliged, to intervene?

Under this premise, one could assume and assume that the game was not interrupted at all – because the ball remained on the field – and the goal was therefore preceded by a punishable handball. But in terms of the rules, the case is assessed differently, as DFB instructor Lutz Wagner explained to ntv.de. With the referee’s approval of the throw-in, it was therefore clear that, from the referee’s point of view, the ball had previously been in touch and the game was thus interrupted. A subsequent evaluation as a handball was not possible due to the game being continued with the blessing of the referee in the form of the throw-in.

This meant that the video assistant could not intervene for this further reason, because he was only allowed to check the phase between the throw-in, i.e. the continuation of the game, and the goal scoring. But the scene contained too many conjunctives and ambiguities: it was not possible to clearly determine that the ball was not out of bounds, nor did the pictures show an unequivocally incorrectly executed throw-in. Munich didn’t want to dwell on this scene either, especially since it was clear to them that the goal could have been avoided by more attentive defensive behavior.

Red for summer and the penalty for Gladbach were correct

In the game Hertha BSC – Borussia Mönchengladbach (2-2), referee Patrick Ittrich had his hands full on his Bundesliga comeback after several weeks of injury. Already after 13 minutes he showed the Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer the red card – and rightly so: The keeper of the guests, who hurried out of his goal, had taken the Berlin striker Jhon Cordoba off his feet shortly before the penalty area and thus thwarted an obvious goal opportunity. Because without the foul, Cordoba would have been able to shoot the ball at the empty goal from a favorable position.

The decision to award Borussia a penalty after 37 minutes was also correct, because Niklas Stark had hit Marcus Thuram in the penalty area with his tackle on the foot and missed the ball. The Gladbachers demanded another penalty in the 72nd minute: After a cross Thuram got the ball, but struggled to keep his balance. So he stretched out his left leg – and stepped the sliding Lukas Klünter on the forearm and back of the hand. In this position, Thuram slipped a meter with the Herthaner and then fell to the ground. Because Klünter held his foot and finally trapped it?

Confusion over Hertha’s goal to make it 2-2

That is how the guests saw it, but on the one hand Klünter’s arm movement could also be seen as an effort to pull his arm away from under Thuram’s tunnel. And even if you don’t agree with this point of view: It was Thuram who first stepped his foot on his arm and stepped up his hand – certainly not with unsportsmanlike intent, but that is irrelevant. The fact that Ittrich did not decide on a penalty again here was therefore not only understandable, but correct. In no case was there a clear and obvious wrong decision that should have called the video assistant on the scene.

On the other hand, there was a little confusion about Hertha equalizing to 2-2 shortly after the break. Cordoba had scored after a cross from Cunha, but the goal had initially been denied recognition because the assistant referee had perceived the goalscorer’s offside position. However, after a three-minute review by the VAR, the referee corrected the decision and gave the hit. Apparently Ramy Bensebaini was slightly closer to the goal line than Cordoba. Unlike usual, the television stations could not show the official still image from the Video Assist Center in Cologne with the calibrated lines, but had to draw the lines themselves. Why remained unclear – and given the tightness of the decision, that was not a good example of transparency.


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