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France awarded controversial penalty after first VAR review in World Cup history

Australian players protest as referee Andres Cunha from Uruguay decides on penalty after consulting with the VAR during the group C match between France and Australia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Saturday, June 16, 2018. (AP Photo/David Vincent)

The first on-field video review in World Cup history was just as controversial as you would have expected it to be.

Referee Andres Cunha awarded France a penalty early in the second half against Australia on Saturday after going to the pitchside monitor and overturning his own call.

He had originally waved away appeals for a penalty after Antoine Griezmann was taken down while racing onto a Paul Pogba through-ball. Upon viewing the replay, though, Cunha pointed to the spot, where Griezmann converted:


The Australian defender, Josh Risdon, appeared to get a slight touch on the ball, but ultimately, the call appeared to be the correct one. Risdon caught Griezmann’s ankle heavily. Even if the ball was gone, on replay, it looked like a penalty.

Another big VAR talking point is the timing of reviews – how long the delays are. This one wasn’t exactly short … but the referee and the video assistants executed just as they’re supposed to. The first stoppage in play after the incident was roughly 25 seconds after it. That’s when Cunha blew his whistle and indicated the play was under review. Roughly 15 seconds later, he went to the monitor. After another 45 seconds or so, he returned to the field and pointed to the penalty spot.

Australia, however, got a penalty of its own later in the half to level the score at 1-1:

 


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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

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