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Question Number: 32382

Law 5 - The Referee 4/17/2018

RE: Rec Adult

Russell of Sydney, Australia asks...

VAR penalty after 1st half finishes.

The below links shows a VAR decision where a penalty is taken after the first half had been completed (you can clearly hear the whistle to end the half following a passage of play).

In the passage of play, it became apparent from replays, that there was a HB by a defender in the PA.

Next we see a penalty being taken (and converted).

I assume that this is possible as although the CR has ended the half, the HB was pointed out to him and as Play had not begun for the 2nd half, he could restart (continue) the 1st half.

We know a half can be extended to allow for a penalty kick, and we would be advising players that the PK is the last action of the half - but that is when you can see that the half is about to end very soon after the award of the PK.

In this instance, it is clear the half had ended before the PK was awarded.

So is it that we can go back and continue the half as play had not restarted (for the 2nd half).


Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
Law 5 tells us that a referee may not change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or on the advice of another match official if play has restarted or the referee has signalled the end of the first or second half (including extra time) and left the field of play or terminated the match.
Now in this situation we know from the video that the referee clearly signalled the end of the half however the referee had not fully left the field of play although both teams had done so.
Now the situation leaves a lot to be desired in management of VAR. so it appears to me that
1. The VAR saw the possibility that there was a deliberate handling and asked the referee to review
2. Play continued until the next stoppage which was half time
3. Players on that signal were entitled and expected to leave the field of play
4. The referee was still on the field of play when he conducted a review
5. Play can be extended to allow a penalty kick to be taken.
So I do not see any misapplication of the laws here. However it would appear that the VAR protocol which states and I quote was not followed.
** The VAR is like an assistant referee- if an assistant referee is indicating an offence which occurred before the referee blew the whistle, the referee can still take action as long as the referee has not left the field of play. If this situation occurs, the VAR should immediately tell the referee who can inform the players and stop them leaving the field of play. The incident should then be dealt with according to the normal VAR procedures (check, review etc.). To avoid such problems, in the final minutes of a half, the VAR should immediately inform the referee of any potential check / review so that, if possible, the referee can stop play / delay a restart to avoid having a review after the whistle for the end of the half has been blown.**

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Russell,
As far as the legality/permissibility of what took place here, the decisive factor for me, is whether the referee had fully left the field or not, before initiating the VAR review.

According to some discussions I have seen on this incident, the full video (no longer available apparently) showed the referee had not completely left the field - although all of the Freiburg players and most of the Mainz players had (and the Freiburg players were already back in the dressing room enjoying their half time break).

This being so, the referee was technically entitled to conduct a VAR review and award a penalty. However the mechanics leave an awful lot to be desired. As ref McHugh's response indicates, it appears the procedures laid down in the IFAB's VAR protocol were not properly followed. The VAR should have notified the referee much sooner and the players should have been kept on the pitch, which would have made the whole incident much more palatable.

As it is, the way events transpired leaves something of a sour taste in the mouth. Even the player who scored the penalty and whose team benefited from this decision, has said that this ''is not football.''

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