Russia 2018: the World Cup where VAR made the difference

The use of the VAR system was approved in March by the rule-making body IFAB, despite controversy in some of the competitions in which it has been trialled over the time taken to make decisions and la

The World Cup in Russia introduced the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) to global audiences, as it was being used at football’s biggest tournament for the first time.



The use of the VAR system was approved in March by the rule-making body IFAB, despite controversy in some of the competitions in which it has been trialled over the time taken to make decisions and lack of information for spectators.



VAR was one of the biggest talking points in the early stages of the World Cup in Russia, with up to 335 incidents checked using VAR in the group stages.



During the media referee conference after the group stage, the system was credited with improving the accuracy of match changing decisions by referees from 95% to 99.3%.



“We have always said that VAR doesn’t mean perfection – there could still be the wrong interpretation or a mistake – but I think you would agree that 99.3% is very close to perfection,” said Chairman of the FIFA Referees’ Committee Pierluigi Collina.



[Explainer] VAR makes major wins at 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia



Reuters put together a factbox detailing five times a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) made an impact at the World Cup.



France 2-1 Australia (Group C)



France’s first game against Australia was the first time VAR was used to award a penalty at the World Cup. Antoine Griezmann was through on goal and inside the penalty area before he went down under contact from Josh Risdon.



Referee Andres Cunha allowed play to continue, but stopped the game after being alerted by the VAR. The referee checked replays on a pitch-side monitor and awarded a penalty from which Griezmann opened France’s account.



Brazil 2-0 Costa Rica (Group E)



The game was scoreless with 12 minutes remaining and Brazil were pushing for an equaliser when Neymar went to ground under a touch from Giancarlo Gonzalez, leading referee Bjorn Kuipers to award a penalty.



The VAR intervened, and the referee watched the replays and reversed his decision, marking the first time a VAR review had cancelled the award of a penalty at the World Cup.



Iran 1-1 Portugal (Group B)



Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo was fouled in the box and the referee awarded a record 19th penalty at the World Cup before the knockout rounds. Ronaldo missed his spot kick, but the decision eclipsed the previous record tally of 18 penalties awarded at the 2002 World Cup hosted by Japan and South Korea.



VAR was used on two more occasions of note in the same match – when Ronaldo was shown a yellow card for an elbow and to award Iran a penalty for handball in extra time that allowed the Asian team to level the score.



Spain 2-2 Morocco (Group B)



At nearly the same time as Iran was scoring their penalty to level with Portugal, Iago Aspas had scored a late goal to draw Spain level with Morocco, but his celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag for offside.



Referee Ravshan Irmatov was alerted by the VAR to check the replays and overturned the linesman’s decision and awarded the goal, sending Spain through to the knockout stages as group winners ahead of Portugal.



Sweden 1-0 Switzerland (Round of 16)



Sweden were 1-0 up and under pressure from Switzerland late in the game when they broke through the Swiss cordon and launched a quick counter-attack.



Martin Olsson was bearing down on the Swiss goal when he was fouled by Michael Lang and the referee awarded a penalty and showed Lang a red card. After consulting the VAR, the referee realised the foul had taken place outside the area and changed his decision, giving the Swedes a free kick instead.



Gabon's Camacho axed. What's next for the Panthers? [Football Planet]

Gabon’s sports minister Alain Claude Billie By-Nze announced last week that Jose Antonio Camacho’s contract as head coach of the Panthers coach of the will not be renewed at the end of November.

Gabon’s sports minister Alain Claude Billie By-Nze announced last week that Jose Antonio Camacho’s contract as head coach of the Panthers coach of the will not be renewed at the end of November. A Gabonese football pundit Berleck Leckobat joined us on a call from Libreville, to share his thoughts with us.

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The first leg of the quarter finals of the CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederations CAF were played over the weekend. In the Champions League, only four goals were scored in all four matches played but despite the shortage of goals, the action was intense! In this episode, Philemon Mbale joined us live in the studio for a quick analysis of the action. e have a special guest to give us a quick analysis of the action.

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Football is a sport to be enjoyed by all. Morocco’s soccer team for people with dwarfism hopes for sponsors to help fund their participation in an international tournament in Argentina. Mbale and Bridgete Ugwe filed a detailed report on that.

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The Rwanda Football Federation have denied allegations that they bribed a referee who officiated their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier match which they lost 2-1 to Ivory Coast on September 9 in Kigali.

Namibian referee Jackson Pavaza reportedly communicated to CAF that he had been offered a bribe and told the Namibian media about the story.

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The first-ever African Freestyle Football Championship ends in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos with Ben Abdul Nader Kone from Ivory Coast winning the tournament. The 3-day event which took place at Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos saw freestylers from various part of the continent compete fiercely for the star prize. Linnette Bahati and Cedric Sehossolo did a report on that.

Zimbabwe sports minister hopes to uplift youth, unite 'polarised' country

Coventry, who is dubbed the country’s ‘Golden Girl’, having won seven swimming medals for her country, including two golds, says she is aware of how vitally important her docket that includes upliftin

Zimbabwe’s new 34-year old minister, Kirsty Coventry believes sports can unite the country that has been polarised by political and economic challenges.

Coventry, who is dubbed the country’s ‘Golden Girl’, having won seven swimming medals for her country, including two golds, says she is aware of how vitally important her docket that includes uplifting the youth is.

“I firmly believe that sport breaks down barriers between people, and that it can bring a nation together in unity and pride. It transcends all sections of society, the older generation and the kids,’‘ Coventry says.

‘A pleasant surprise’

Coventry says she never had an ambition to go into government, but now that the opportunity has presented itself, is eager to make the most of it.

“I do believe that things are brought to you for a reason and that there is a bigger picture to what we are doing. Zimbabwe is a very exciting place at the moment with everything that is happening.

“I will do what I have always done, to try and inspire and uplift people. I know I will need to surround myself with a good team to achieve what we want to do. But I still see myself very much as just a person and not a politician.”

‘Focus on our strengths’

Having been sworn in on Monday, Coventry has hit the ground running, meeting officials of several sports federations and sharing her vision for a triumphant Zimbabwe at the Olympics.

Coventry believes the country needs to be more “strategic” in the development of Olympic athletes.

“Two important factors we need to consider if we are to improve our chances are obviously providing facilities and access to sport, and in this regard I think we need to be more strategic,” Coventry told Reuters.

“The example I always use is that of Jamaica, who decided to focus on the 100-metre and 200-metre sprints, because they saw that as a strength, and they have done remarkably well.

Getting the job done

The successful athlete and accomplished sports administrator plans to sit down in the coming weeks with the country’s sporting federations, coaches, players and other stakeholders to listen to their challenges.

“I want to understand how we can better support our athletes and youth, because sport and the arts is also a vehicle for job creation, which is so important for Zimbabwe.”

Coventry has extensive experience in sports administration having been elected chairperson of the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission earlier this year, and is also a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Athlete Committee.

She has served as vice-president of Zimbabwe National Olympic Committee and fulfilled the same role for the International Surfing Association.

Averting Africa's tragic stadium disasters [Sport]

Experts attribute the drum roll of football disasters to a combination of poor security and stadium management that reflects a « general indifference to the comfort and safety of people who go to watch

African football is no stranger to death at stadiums. Last weekend was an exciting weekend for football fans in the continent when we were having plenty of matches for the AFCON 2019 qualifiers, but in The Big Island of Madagascar, a life was lost and 40 injured in a stadium stampede just before the Madagascar vs Senegal game.

This is definitely not the first such incident in Africa. It’s again not even the worst. The continent has over the last few decades gotten a tragic record of stadium disasters. Ironically with increasing insecurity, no incident has been a result of a terrorist act. All these tragedies stem from Poor crowd control, overzealous policing and fan misbehavior.

On May 9‚ 2001, the worst stadium disaster in Africa occurred In Accra Ghana, after a match between Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko. Hearts netted two late goals to win the game‚ after which Kotoko threw objects onto the pitch and broke seats. The police fired tear gas into the stands and from the resultant stampede‚ 127 souls were lost.
At the Stade Frederic Kibassa Maliba in Lubumbashi DRC, local clubs TP Mazembe and St Eloi Lupopo were clashing on 29, April 2001. Crowd trouble ensued and again, police fired teargas into the crowd. A total of 14 people died in the stampede that followed.

In 2012 reports said 74 people were killed when fans of Egyptian side Al Masry turned violent against visiting supporters of Al Ahly at the Port Said Stadium. Panicked Ahly fans were attacked with blunt instruments and knives, and many were killed in a crush as they tried to escape the violence, while others fell or were thrown from terraces.

Last year, eight fans died in a stampede at a game in Malawi, while the same number was killed in a cup final in Senegal.

Two fans were killed in South Africa during a crush at an entrance gate for a pre-season friendly between Soweto sides Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at Soccer City, the venue for the 2010 World Cup final, in July 2017.

Those are just but some of the ugly incidences that have emerged from crowd trouble in African stadiums. By analysis most of the deaths come from stampedes that stem from poor policing, like police firing tear gas into crowd. Then the crowd surges towards the only available exits.

It has been established that due to poor ticketing systems, most of the stadiums have only a few gates open and others locked. Why would you have only 3 gates open in a 60,000-capacity stadium that has over 20 gates?

There’s a culture of neglect that needs to end. Experts attribute the drum roll of football disasters to a combination of poor security and stadium management that reflects a “general indifference to the comfort and safety of people who go to watch.”

The practice of police using tear gas should be banned, as it evidently does nothing but spark calamity and stampedes. Stadium management and crowd control also need to be upped to international standards as per the FIFA guidelines.

But then there’s the biggest problem of all, that is hooliganism and spectator violence which is what has triggered most tragedies. Combating such unruly behaviour has proved hard for security officials but it can be fairly regulated through implementation of fences to stop fans running onto the pitch and installing pens to prevent sideways movement by fans – ultimately, that requires high levels of order and crowd control.

Bottom line is regardless of societal or economic constraints, African governments, federations and football fans have a huge responsibility and in fact a duty, in making our stadiums safe places to watch football.

Liberia honour VAR: Why Weah is on and offside with Wenger medal

Back home, the argument was that giving the highest national honour had to reflect the magnitude of the recipient’s contribution to the country. That Wenger had undoubtedly done so much for Weah as a

Liberia’s president George Weah recently conferred his country’s highest honour on ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. The move elicited varied responses for and against the action.

One thing was clear, that the criticisms were not going to have the potency to flag the event offside. So it took place in Monrovia, August 24, as Weah decorated the Frenchman man who discovered him way back in 1988.

Back home, the argument was that giving the highest national honour had to reflect the magnitude of the recipient’s contribution to the country. That Wenger had undoubtedly done so much for Weah as a person and not Liberia as a country.

Others averred, much as the president could award honours, the category he had chosen to confer on Wenger reflected a personal will than that of the Liberian people.

Then a minister stepped in to explain / justify why Wenger and why the highest national award. In summary, he said the award was even beyond Wenger’s impact on Liberia but on Africa as a whole – given the opportunities he gave African players whiles coaching.

Information Minister Eugene Nagbe in response to criticisms of the award told the BBC the award was not only about Wenger’s impact on Weah alone but a way to recognize that the Frenchman had “contributed to sports in Africa and has given many Africans opportunities.”

For those that see the move as justified, they argue that the president is well within his powers to confer an award on any individual he deems fit. That he would hardly have unilaterally done so without the agreement of an advisory council.

Again, they advance the argument that long before Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leila Gbowee were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Liberia was best known for its protracted deadly and devastating civil war.

The days when any glimmer of hope and stability was shattered with the taking of arms, when Liberia’s internal crisis threatened an entire sub-region principally Sierra Leone, when nationals were scattered around West Africa as they fled the war back home.

In those days, there was the ‘patriotic’ young man called George Weah, a young man who gave Liberians something to rally around. He brought football to citizens home and abroad.

Weah is on record to have singlehandedly financed travels of the national team across Africa as they engaged in qualifiers for tournaments or even to play in friendly games – he was in essence the main financier of national team football in Liberia.

Winning international accolades over the time also brought Liberia to the fore and he took the opportunity at every turn to file for peace back home. Weah knew that his journey started three decades ago thanks to Wenger signing him for Toulouse.

The two went their separate ways as Wenger took on Arsenal years later whiles Weah travelled around Europe making a name for himself.

So the argument about Wenger’s impact on Liberia for some, is tied to Weah’s overall impact on the country especially through the years of turmoil. For others, Weah could probably not convince any other president to award Wenger that kind of medal.

The final whistle has since been blown and Liberia’s national honours has in it that Arsene Wenger is a Knights Grand Commander, Humane Order of African Redemption (KGC-HOAR) thanks to President George Weah.

Shaban Abdur Rahman Alfa
Africanews, Digital Journalist
alfa.shaban@africanews.com
@AlfaAfrican

Video: 51-year old George Weah takes on Nigeria's Super Eagles

Liberia had arranged the friendly to retire the number 14 jersey made famous by Weah but fans were in for a shock when, 16 years after his last international appearance, the striker led the national t

Liberia’s George Weah who used his football fame and star power to make a successful bid for the presidency, briefly came out of retirement on Tuesday to play in a 2-1 loss to Nigeria a few weeks short of his 52nd birthday.

The former World Footballer of the Year led the attack and played for up to 79 minutes, surprising many who watched the game and those who were following the proceedings online.

Liberia had arranged the friendly to retire the number 14 jersey made famous by Weah but fans were in for a shock when, 16 years after his last international appearance, the striker led the national team onto the pitch wearing it instead.

Does president Weah still have his football magic?

Media reports said Weah, who led the attack and showed glimpses of the class that made him a household name around the world, received a standing ovation from fans when he was substituted on 79 minutes.

Goals from Henry Onyekuru and Simeon Nwankwo helped Nigeria to a 2-0 lead before the hosts pulled one back through a Kpah Sherman penalty late in the game.

Weah’s glorious football career

Weah enjoyed a career in Europe spanning nearly a decade and a half that saw him play for Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille in France, AC Milan in Italy and English sides Manchester City and Chelsea.

As well as being named the 1995 World Footballer of the Year, he also won the Ballon d’Or in the same year and remains the only African to win either award.

Weah’s popularity from his playing career saw him secure a landslide run-off winlast December in Liberia’s presidential elections.

ALSO READ: Weah honours Wenger with Liberia’s highest national award
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