There was confusion and controversy within minutes of the opening match of the Qatar World Cup after Ecuador had a goal disallowed against the host country by VAR using Fifa’s new semi-automated offside system.
Ecuador thought they had taken a lead against Qatar after just two minutes when captain Enner Valencia powered in a header at the back post following a set-piece routine.
But, after a delay of almost two minutes, referee Daniele Orsato ruled out the goal and signalled that there had been an offside in the build-up.
The replays of the goal did not make clear who had been offside, resulting in considerable confusion among fans watching on TV and in the stadium.
One fan called the decision the “worst I’ve ever seen on a football pitch” while another added that they “didn’t have a clue” as to why it was disallowed.
However, it was later determined that the VAR’s decision to disallow the goal was correct as there had in fact been an offside in the build up.
From a deep free-kick, Ecuador player Felix Torres beat Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb to the cross after he had come off his line.
The ball fell to forward Michael Estrada, who flicked it back to Torres, before it was squared to Valencia to head into the empty net.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) November 20, 2022
Further replays showed that Estrada’s leg was offside before he headed back to Torres and because the forward was ahead of the goalkeeper but in front of the last Qatar defender, he was offside.
The decision was shown using a 3D modelling system, which is part of the semi-automated offside system that has already been used in the Champions League this season.
The technology was introduced in order to make quicker and more accurate decisions on marginal offside calls.