December 14, 2016

History made: Viktor Kassai awards the first Penalty Kick ever following Video Assistant Refereeing in an International Match

History has been made: Viktor Kassai has awarded the first penalty kick ever using Video Assistant Refereeing in an international match. Following the advice of his Video Assistant Referees (VAR), the Hungarian Elite official checked video replays close to the sideline and pointed to the spot in the Club World Cup game between Atlético Nacional and Kashima Antlers - despite an offside position of the attacker fouled.

++ First ever penalty kick awarded thanks to Video Assistant Refereeing ++

++ Referee spots foul inside the penalty area upon video review and gives a penalty ++

++ However, the attacker fouled was in an offside position - it is up to interpretation whether the offside became punishable before the foul or at the same time like the foul ++

++ If offside and the foul happened at the same time, penalty would be correct. If the offside became punishable before the foul, then a penalty kick may not be given. Instead, the offside must be whistled. ++

During a high free-kick into the penalty area, Antlers fullback Daigo Nishi was tripped by Atletico’s Orlando Berrio which got missed by both Kassai and his assistant referee Vencel Tóth. Thanks to the input of the Video Assistant Referees Bakary Gassama (Gambia), Danny Makkelie (Netherlands) and Damir Skomina (Slovenia), Kassai got aware of a potentially match influencing situation he should better re-check himself on a video board close to the sideline.

Having checked the video material, Kassai immediately pointed to the spot and made clear that the decision was made by Video Refereeing by using the hand gesture indicating a screen - which however did not really lower the complaints of Atlético Nacional's players.

Interestingly, though, the decision appears to be incorrect as the tackle was made after an offside position of the attacker fouled. At the moment of the free-kick, the attacker is in an offside position and has previously sought physical contact with the defender, which should be deemed as impeding or challenging an opponent for the ball. But was the ball in play at that moment?

On the one hand, you can argue that the offside becomes an offence before the defender trips the opponent. If you follow this interpretation, offside (indirect free-kick) would be the correct decision. It would have been different if the offside offence had become punishable at the same time like the foul (Why is this so? See this article!).

On the other hand, a large part of this interference with the defender happens when the ball is not in play yet. It depends on your individual judgment whether the offside offence happens before the foul at the moment of the free-kick and when the ball gets into play first. We rather tend to think that in the period when the ball was in play, the attacker did not challenge the opponent for the ball.

Therefore, we tend to deem the offside as not punishable and to support the penalty kick decision.

FIFA's official reading of the situation is:

"Prior to that, the assistant referee had correctly applied the ‘wait and see’ technique with regard to the offside position of the player who was fouled. The offside offence never materialised because the player was unable to challenge the opponent for the ball, and the Hungarian referee subsequently pointed to the penalty mark, judging from the replay that Daigo Nishi had been tripped inside the penalty area by Atletico’s Orlando Berrio. Shoma Doi successfully converted the penalty kick, with the host club going on to win 3-0."

At any rate, as Kashima won by 3:0 after full time with the score having been 0:0 at the moment of the offence, this example at least shows that the availability of Video Assistant Refereeing might have immense, game-changing influence on the course of a match.

This has been a historical moment for sure, although a comparable situation already happened once in the USA.

With this blueprint incident having occurred, it is hard to imagine that FIFA's decision-makers will not use Video Assistant Refereeing in the coming years including 2018 FIFA World Cup. Even though, in our view, it also suggests that Video Assistant Refereeing will not lead to completely clear decisions without any room for debate - something which even the supporters of the VAR project admit and do not claim, by the way.


  1. Two questions:
    1) Was Kassai allowed to refuse, in case, the penalty call after having watched the video? in case of negative answer, what is the need of watching the replay before assigning a penalty? we could go directly to penalty decision without wasting more time.
    2) I guess that VAR officials had further videos from different cameras and angles, in addition to what was shown on TV, to be 100% sure of the decision, otherwise one could still have doubts. Do you agree?

    1. So if he would've spent 3 minutes watching the replay from different angles and decide it wasn't worth of a foul (i.e: incidental contact)? That would be embarrassing and not speak very highly of VAR

  2. I see arguments to call an offside here.

    The attacker comes from an offside position to clearly block the path of the defender moving towards the ball. The defender then in response fouls him.

    Does VAR understand and consider this here?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. In fact we adapted the text after the first release.
      However, Ed, I think we also have to acknowledge that a large part of the offside offence happens while the ball was not in play yet. Still you can call the short intervall between a) the free-kick being taken/ball becoming in play and b) the foul play occurring as an offside infraction, but we are indeed talking about 0,5 seconds maybe.

  3. Another interesting point of discussion is: what would have happened if a team had scored a goal after the incident and before the call by VAR?
    In case of goal scored by Atlético, it would have been annulled, due to the previous punishable offense (we can consider the game "frozen" in that exact moment), but in case of goal scored by Kashima? This goal would have been annulled, to give a penalty for a previous situation? Of course, difficult to accept on the pitch, and this could lead to many polemics. The best solution would be to decide when the game is not in progress, but of course that's impossible...

    1. And we can make it even easier, what about the possible cards given in these minutes? Annulled or confirmed? We should remember that the play must be considered stopped at the moment of the infringement.
      I think that under this point of view it will be a mess.

  4. Another simple question that might be raised: Why did Tóth neither signal the offside nor saw the foul? It was in his area of vicinity / responsibility. Maybe the answer is "because he knew there would be a VAR who can take the decision in a safer way". But honestly this is no situation which only a VAR can see..

  5. If this is the procedure of taking decisions with the help of the VAR, we should stop using the assistance - I have to say it that clear. Of course the final decision is right (if we ignore the possible offside position) and probably without the VAR, Kassai would not have given this penalty. But the procedure is simply terrible. Two more minutes were played - just imagine what can happen within these two minutes. Not only that is problematic, but also the way how this assistance works. I simply do not understand that the referee has to go to the sideline and has to rewatch the situation. Well, one can say that the referee should still be the one who takes decisions, but not by all means. I'm pretty sure that the VARs have already known that this incident has to be punished with a penalty, otherwise they wouldn't have told Kassai to rewatch the situation, which takes too much time. To be honest, it makes more than a bad impression on the spectors and - as we could see - the players. Nothing changed, players were still protesting. And that is understandable as two more minutes were played and then the referee has even to rewatch the incident.
    The VARs should, in my view, intervene as soon as they realize that this is a 100%-penalty (and only then!) and tell the referee how the correct decision looks like. We save time and we save the authority of the referee.
    Just imagine it's WC final, a clear penalty has to be given but the referee didn't see this incident. The match goes on for two more minutes and then the VARs intervene. The referee has to go to the sideline and rewatch the situation he missed - all the focus on the referee (enormous pressure), furios players waiting for a decision.
    I'm convinced that it would be much easier for the VARs to tell the referee what he missed and for the referee because there's not that much pressure on him.

  6. What about the time lost? It took 1,5 mins to change the decision. Would that time have to be added at the end of the half? If so, what would happen when there are multiple penalty appeals? 10 minutes of added time? VAR must be quick. This almost first situation has shown more trouble than benefits. Possibly a wrong decision even with VAR, and also 1,5 mins gone to the limbo. This will have a huge impact in the sport... and if it's like this, it won't be positive. Another option would be that, if the referee or the VAR sees something, the call is immediatly given and then quickly reviewed. It's easier for everyone to change the decision when the ball is out of play than letting the game continue and then going back.

    Apart from that, very interesting scene. Thank you!

  7. Official statement by FIFA:

    [...]Prior to that, the assistant referee had correctly applied the ‘wait and see’ technique with regard to the offside position of the player who was fouled. The player was deemed to not be offside, having been unable to challenge the opponent for the ball, and the Hungarian referee subsequently pointed to the penalty spot, having judged from the replay that Daigo Nishi was tripped inside the penalty area by Atletico’s Orlando Berrio. Shoma Doi successfully converted the penalty kick, with the host club going on to win 3-0.[...]

  8. IMO there is no offside. As FIFA says, the player in offside position doesn't intervene with play. So, IMO, totally different scene with Rostov - Bayern.

    1. We agree that he does not interfere with play, the question is whether he interferes with an opponent. He does, the question then is "when". If the ball was in play when he impeded the defender's progress: offside, if the ball was not in play when he impeded the opponent's movement: penalty. That's how I read it at least.

  9. Looking at the scene it took less then 1 minute from the penalty situation until the moment that the referee made the signal to wait with the throw-in. We don't know the exact reason why the VAR needed this particular time before informing the referee regarding the foul. Perhaps they were waiting/searching for the right replay/footage. I am sure that they have checked the offside situation carefully which can be the reason for even more delay. As written the VAR should only intervene when they are 100% sure about a clear error. Also I think that they were able to take this time because the white team kept possession of the ball. So when they would have scored a goal during the check, the referee and VAR could have easily applied the advantage. In the end it's all about the correct decision and the right outcome of the match. In rugby and hockey it has been accepted already. Ofcourse some players were protesting tonight which is understandable. It was the very first time that this was happening and so they were a bit confused. I am convinced that this kind of reactions will disappear when this technology has become a habit for everyone. Especially when FIFA decide to show the fouls on the big screen in the stadium as a confirmation to the spectators, players and coaches.


  10. Crystal Palace- United: Goal illegal. Gift for Mourinho.

  11. IMO it was the clear offside offence (interfering with an opponent). The ball was in play !

  12. Document shared by IFAB including review process:

    The most interesting part of it:
    "If the referee wants a review when play has not stopped, play should be
    stopped as soon as it is in a ‘neutral’ area i.e. when neither team has a good
    attacking possibility"

  13. On cards after a play under review, etc.: I believe the official policy is that any cards will be maintained, except those for SPA/DOGSO. So presumably any goal would be nullified as well (if the leading principle is that there can be no GSO after a reviewed play, then there can't be any goal either). But, as Chefren mentions, good luck establishing game control that way.

    This was the first time, so it will get faster, but this took way too long. 5 minutes from the foul to the PK. Also, as Chefren mentions, how can the referee walk out there, look at the screen, and decide 'nevermind'? Isn't there a pressure to call something?

  14. Interesting situation around the VAR yesterday: PEC Zwolle - FC Utrecht. Referee: Bjorn Kuipers, VAR: Kevin Blom. 90+2: Kuipers gives a penalty (can be given, I think), asks for confirmation, gets that confirmation from Blom. After the match, Blom had to be taken by the police to be able to leave the stadium. (angry 'fans' hand surrounded the bus in which he was looking at the match.)

    The point in this: VAR's savety at the parking place should be taken in account.

  15. In today's second semifinal the onside decision for the second goal was confirmed by the VARs.
    But there was confusion, because it first seemed as if Caceres decided offside after information by VAR. Somehow a communciation problem.

    1. Well, I don't understand what happened this time.
      Goal was clearly regular, given the fact that VAR should intervene only in case of clear mistake, I think that in this situation there wasn't any need to communicate with referee.
      But then, in case of intervention, it is very difficult to think that there were problems in communicating that the decision was right.
      I wouldn't exclude that the VAR didn't work and the goal had been at first wrongly assessed as offside.
      Hopefully FIFA will write another official note, this time it is more needed.

    2. Perhaps Cáceres did something wrong, going against the procedure? This would be the only thing making sense there.
      Otherwise, you can't expect such mess in a so easy situation to read.


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