It was definitely an extraordinary weekend at the Women’s World Cup. It all starts with the crowded penalty box in Grenoble. With the score at 0-0 (first half), Svenja Huth is positional few yards from her opponent’s goalkeeper as Germany prepares to take a corner.
The Nigerian goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozia give the forward a little push, however, the German remains as the ball comes flying into the box.
Eight Nigerian players are within six yards of the goal. The defense should not be breached, but the ball hits the back of the net followed by Alexandra Poppyseed is given the freedom to head home into the corner.
Here comes the use of the VAR (Video Assisted Referee). The use of the VAR has been on a constant since the start of the Women’s World Cup, minutes of delay and question arising about the ability of the referees at the tournament.
Eventually, referee Yoshimi Yamashita deemed Popp’s header a worthy goal, giving Germany a lead it would extend over the 90 minutes, sealing a 3-0 win over the Super Falcons to march towards the quarterfinals.
Casey Stoney, Manchester United women’s manager echoed her thoughts after all four matches were concluded. She was at Grenoble working as a pundit for BBC. She says “I genuinely cannot understand what’s going on in this tournament.” Which is the general thought of many.
“I think it’s poor refereeing,” added Stoney. “My interpretation is that’s offside.”
‘I’m questioning the ability of the officials’
Stoney was also critical of the use of VAR to decide whether Evelyn Nwabuoku’s foul on Germany’s Lina Magull was a penalty.
“If you’re in a good position you see that’s a penalty you should not need to go to VAR for that to be given and waste even more time so I’m questioning the ability of the officials at this tournament.”
Also speaking on BBC Two, former England defender Laura Bassett said referees were using VAR as a “comfort blanket.”
Meanwhile, after his team’s defeat, Nigeria’s coach Thomas Dennerby admitted the use of VAR had led to “some strange situations” during the match.
In England’s Women’s Super League, the standard of refereeing was put under the microscope last season. As more attention than ever was placed on what has become a fully professional top division.
As of yet, there is not a full-time group of referees in the WSL. It was only in 2016 that the English Football Association introduced an assessment system to oversee the quality of refereeing in the women’s game.