“Collina’s heirs” are happy: this time Cologne is not angry about the cellar

“Collina’s heirs” are happy
This time Cologne is not angry about the basement

By Alex Feuerherdt

This time 1. FC Köln has no reason to complain about the VAR, two delicate reviews are in its favor – and rightly so. In Mönchengladbach, meanwhile, they are upset because there were no penalty kicks in two situations.

1. FC Köln’s satisfaction with the video assistants has so far been limited. Too often, as one hears and reads especially from the fans of the Rhinelander, the club has been disadvantaged by the VAR: in the form of interventions at the expense of the “Effzeh”, where, from the point of view of many supporters of the cathedral townspeople, there should not have been, or through Failure to intervene where they would have been necessary in their opinion. If the consent of football fans to the video center of the referees is generally limited, this institution is particularly unpopular with Cologne, if not everything is wrong.

On this first day of the new season, however, they should not have had much objections to the result: the video assistant was consulted twice in the game between 1. FC Köln against Hertha BSC (3: 1) in game-changing situations, both times the Verification in the end in favor of the host. The first of these came after 23 minutes, when Cologne’s Rafael Czichos missed the ball with his head after a cross from Peter Pekarik and steered it out with his forearm. Referee Robert Hartmann decided on a corner kick, and VAR Markus Schmidt then recommended an on-field review.

It is conceivable that the referee did not even notice the handball and therefore did not evaluate it; It is also possible, however, that Hartmann had come to the conclusion that it was not a criminal handball, and that Schmidt considered this to be a clear misjudgment. The same: The referee ran to the monitor himself and then decided that the Cologne defender had done nothing contrary to the rules. It therefore remained with the corner kick decision. And that, although Czichos had increased his defense area by bending his right arm in the failed header attempt.

In the case of handball, the intention is now again in the foreground

There was a high probability that there would have been a penalty last season. But the rulers of the International Football Association Board (Ifab) have changed the handball rule again. Now, when evaluating hand games, the player’s intention is more in the foreground and the position of the arm or hand is less rigid. The question is now: Does this player’s arm position primarily serve to enlarge the defense area in order to stop or deflect the ball? Or is that at least accepted with approval? Then the handball concerned is punishable.

Or is the arm position part of a normal, natural body movement – for example when jumping, tackling or turning – that does not pursue the goal or take the risk of stopping the ball? Then handball is not a criminal offense. The IFAB also knows that these questions cannot always be answered clearly and unequivocally and that there is still a gray area. However, it deliberately leaves the referees a greater margin of discretion. Their expertise is the best way to judge a player’s intention.

When Rafael Czichos went to the ball, his intention to reach the ball with his head was clearly visible. That he failed and instead played the ball with his arm was due to his bad timing. The question now was whether the Cologne man’s arm posture was to be assessed as the result of a normal, football-typical jumping movement when attempting a header or as an increase in the defense area through which Czichos at least took the risk of hitting the ball with his arm.

Hartmann’s decisions were in the spirit of football

Robert Hartmann decided on the former after looking at the pictures, so he did not want to accuse the defender of negligence, although there would have been arguments for it, especially since Czichos was solely responsible for his poor coordination in this situation. But if the intention is decisive for the evaluation of hand games, then it is also in the sense of football not to punish a rather unsuccessful, unintentional action like that of the Cologne defender with a penalty. Thus one can follow Robert Hartmann’s judgment.

This also applies to his decision – not criticized by the VAR – to recognize the equalizer for the home side to make it 1-1 by Anthony Modeste a few minutes before the break. After a cross from Jan Thielmann, the Cologne man had used his arms a little against Marton Dardai eight meters in front of the Berliner Tor in a central position and finally headed the ball into the guests’ housing. The Herthaners complained about a push by Modeste, but the referee, who let go a lot, stuck to his judgment.

Rightly so, because when Modeste put his hands on Dardai’s upper body, he was already in a stooped and bent position and in a much worse position. The impulse that finally emanated from the Cologne attacker was so small that it could not be seriously considered a crime. Rather, the Berliner had offered too little resistance in a duel and had also hit the ground too easily. To recognize here on Modeste’s foul would have been disproportionate, not least when measured against Robert Hartmann’s general line in the duel evaluation. An intervention by the VAR was therefore not necessary.

Gladbach is only partially rightly at odds with the VAR

Borussia Mönchengladbach was less happy after the game against FC Bayern Munich (1: 1) with the video assistant. Because he had not intervened when Marcus Thuram had fallen in the final phase in two duels with Munich’s newcomer Dayot Upamecano in the Bayern penalty area and referee Marco Fritz had not decided on a penalty. The two cases were positioned differently.

In the 81st minute, Thuram fell because opponent Upamecano had hit his foot in a duel off the ball and so caused the Gladbacher to trip himself. The fact that he was held lightly by the arm should not have played a role. Thuram fell out as the target player for the cross from Jonas Hofmann – when the ball got into the middle, the Frenchman was already on the grass. Since Fritz looked at the ball and the duel took place outside of his field of vision, a review recommendation by the VAR and, as a result, a penalty would have been appropriate. But no appropriate advice came from Cologne.

Two minutes later, Thuram went down again. This time there were several small touches by Upamecano in the upper body and legs, but there was no clear criminal contact that made a penalty inevitable. Rather, the striker fell here without real hardship. Since Marco Fritz whistled quite generously, a penalty decision would not have fit his line, even if it had not been completely wrong. In any case, it was correct that the VAR did not intervene, because there was no clear mistake. All in all, however, the people of Munich can count themselves lucky to have remained undisturbed both times.