Week 21 - Three Penalty Kick Situations
Seattle v Vancouver - 48'
NY Red Bulls v New England - 85'
Columbus v Orlando - 85'
SEA v VAN - What Happened:
A penalty kick was awarded to VAN for a handling offense by SEA defender Chad Marshall. The VAR checked the footage and on doing so could see that the ball actually made contact with the right side of Marshall's chest, near to his shoulder, but there was no contact with the arm. As such, a Video Review was correctly recommended and after looking at the footage in the RRA the referee reversed his original decision.
Because the ball was still in play when the referee made the original penalty decision, the restart must be a drop ball.
Due to there being a very good view with camera (Low Mid) this review takes very little time. The VAR needs only 15 seconds to recommend a review and the referee takes a similar amount of time at the monitor.
This was the correct outcome and an excellent use of the Video Review system to rectify a clear and obvious error.
NYRB v NE - What Happened:
Having received information from his assistant referee, the referee Ismail Elfath awarded a penalty kick to NYRB for a handling offense by NER defender Antonio Mlinar Delamea. The VAR checked the footage and on doing so could see that the ball did make contact with Delamea's right arm, but the arm was tucked-in close to the body and not extended. The arm was not making the body bigger and was in a natural position as Delamea turned away from the shot which was hit at speed from short distance by NYRB's Michael Murillo.
The VAR recommended a review 45 seconds after the incident having found a good camera angle (Low Mid). The referee reversed the penalty kick decision and awarded a corner kick to NYRB.
This was the correct restart, as the referee had not blown the whistle for the penalty until after the ball had gone out. On going to the monitor the referee can act on what he sees, in this case a corner kick.
There may be some people who feel that the award of a penalty kick in this situation did not reach the level of a clear and obvious error, as the ball did strike the arm of the defender. PRO can understand that viewpoint. However, based on the guidance we give to officials regarding handball offenses the actions of Delamea certainly would not be deemed worthy of being penalized. The referee has confirmed that had he seen the action with his own eyes in the first instance he would not have awarded a penalty kick. As such, PRO feels Video Review worked correctly in this instance.
CLB v ORL - What Happened:
The referee Silviu Petrescu awarded a penalty kick to CLB for what he believed to be an illegal charging offense from behind by ORL's RJ Allen on Patrick Mullins of CLB.
The VAR checked the play as normal, and encountered camera angle issues.
There was no clear angle that showed the contact by Allen. Game 1, Tight and Left 18 all had virtually the same wide shot of the incident and was not completely in the screen on the initial contact. Handheld was not in use and Low Midfield was on a close up of another player. This left the High EZ camera as the only option and it was panning with the cross with Allen and Mullins just entering the picture and blurry.
VARs operate on the concept that the on field decision is correct unless they have clear and obvious evidence that shows that it is an error. Because there was contact between the two players - although minimal - he felt the decision could not be classed as clearly and obviously wrong, did not feel he had an angle to show it and thus did not recommend a review.
This was not a correct decision. The VAR quad monitor is a touch screen and gives the VAR the ability to zoom in on any of the cameras with the use of two fingers. Using the High EZ camera, even blurred, along with a zoomed in Right 18 would have shown that there was not enough contact for a penalty and a review should have been recommended.
In normal circumstances, when offenses involving upper body contact are penalized, or appeals are made regarding such situations, the VAR would not intervene because of the subjective nature of such incidents. However, in this situation, the contact is so minimal and non-consequential that a review should have been recommended.
While the players were arguing, the referee made a small VR TV signal while in the crowd and again while walking over to place the ball on the penalty spot. This created further confusion as it appeared that the play was going to be reviewed. However, the referee incorrectly used the signal in an effort to let the players know that the check of the play had been completed and that there would be no formal review.
The decision to award the penalty in the first place was a poor one. PRO has spoken to both the referee and the VAR and have been given operational advice, which is also shared with the wider group in an effort to avoid this type of situation from occurring again.
For any additional questions related to these incidents, other incidents, or video review as a whole, please contact Christa Mann or Sean McCabe of Major League Soccer via the contact details below.
Major League Soccer
Manager, Video Review Operations