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Use of VAR against ‘spirit of football’, says Platini


(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 30, 2017, referee Gianluca Rocchi is looking at the screen of the Video Assistant Referee system (VAR) during the Italian Serie A football match Inter Milan Vs Lazio at the San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy.The FIFA Council meets in Bogota on March 16 and has plans to give the green light to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system to be used at the World Cup in Russia./ AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLO

Former UEFA chief Michel Platini has slammed video assistant referee (VAR) as ‘against the spirit of football’ in reaction to Paris Saint-Germain’s contentious Champions League last-16 exit to Manchester United.

The Red Devils remarkably triumphed 3-1 at Parc des Princes on Wednesday, becoming the first team to progress in a Champions League knockout-round match having lost a home first leg by two or more goals.But the result was not without controversy as referee Damir Skomina opted to award a penalty for handball against Presnel Kimpembe following a consultation with VAR and Marcus Rashford lashed in the last-gasp spot-kick.

It was a decision that has split opinion, with many pundits feeling Kimpembe was hard done by due to the close proximity and speed of Diogo Dalot’s shot.And Platini believes the game is heading down a dangerous path over the handball rule.“During my years at the International Board, I have always tried to defend the game and protect the players,” he told Le Journal du Dimanche.

“What happened on Wednesday just confirmed my words. In this case, the Paris player [Kimpembe] turns around and the ball hits his arm. It’s involuntary.“The referee did what he had to do by whistling a corner, and then people told him he needed to take a closer look. “However, decreeing that any contact of the hand must be penalised with a penalty is to go against the spirit of football, against the game.

“And this may lead to situations where, rather than to adjust their centre or their shot, the players will first aim at the defender’s hand.”Platini, though, believes the problem lays with officials monitoring the footage not the on-field referees.

“I blame those who direct them [referees],” he added.“When we call the video, the four guys in their truck are more concerned to see if there was hand rather than fault. Ditto when a player touches an opponent in the box: it says, ‘There is contact, so penalty’. No, touch does not necessarily mean fault.“Since the beginning, I am against the VAR because, when I was a player, I realised that the televisions did not always tell the truth of the ground.”


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