The UEFA Champions League does not employ VAR. And that, after a wild semifinal second leg on Wednesday, was a point of contention for Roma fans and executives who felt wronged by the referee in a 7-6 aggregate loss to Liverpool.
“I do not understand why there is no VAR in the most important competition in the world,” Roma sporting director Monchi said after the game.
Speaking to Mediaset Premium, Monchi fumed. Via football-italia.net:
“It changes everything. We conceded a goal that was offside in the first leg, here we had two penalties not given, one of which was a clear red card.
“It’s time to raise our voices, not just Roma either, as Juventus suffered the same against Real Madrid. Italian football has to raise its voice, because what we saw tonight was shocking. It’s playing with the hearts of all the fans. We have to compliment Liverpool for their qualification, but also need to evaluate how it happened. … This is not normal.
“I don’t understand why VAR is not used in the most important club competition in the world. I don’t get it. There are still mistakes, but many fewer than we see otherwise.
“It’s not just damage on an economic level, but also for the passion and hard work. The lads in the locker room were really angry, as we gave 100 percent in the second half and were excellent.
“We must introduce VAR in the Champions League, because it’s fundamental. I don’t know why UEFA don’t want it. I really think it’s necessary, because fans might joke that the final with VAR would be Bayern Munich-Roma, but it’s actually true.”
Roma’s American owner, James Pallotta, also called for video review, which is currently used in Italy’s Serie A, Germany’s Bundesliga and MLS, among other domestic leagues. It will be used at the 2018 World Cup, but UEFA has chosen not to implement it.
Pallotta was even more vehement than Monchi:
“It’s absolutely clear that VAR is needed in the Champions League, because you can’t let stuff like this go. You can all look at it yourself. [Edin] Dzeko wasn’t offside, got taken down for a penalty. At the 65th minute, there was a handball that was obvious to everybody in the world except those on the pitch. In the 67th minute, Schick gets taken down in the box.
“I know it’s difficult to ref, but it’s really embarrassing when we lose on aggregate like that.
“Again, congratulations to Liverpool, they’re a great team, but if we don’t get VAR in the Champions League, stuff like this is an absolute joke.”
Both pointed to a few decisions over the two legs. On Liverpool’s third goal last week at Anfield, Mohamed Salah appeared to be offside:
Salah turns provider and finds Mané in the box to make it 3-0 for Liverpool!
A *hint* of offside to start the play off, but it doesn't matter now. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ pic.twitter.com/XBnHuRKFVo
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) April 24, 2018
In the second leg, Edin Dzeko was incorrectly ruled offside seconds before a penalty appeal, and Trent Alexander-Arnold was not punished for this handball:
Fans were furious as well, changing the Wikipedia bio of referee Damir Skomina to list him as a “Liverpool player”:
Roma was also on the right end of two questionable penalty decisions over the two legs – one in the first, one at the very end of the second. The Italians were also fortunate to not see Alessandro Florenzi sent off for a malicious tackle from behind on Sadio Mane in Wednesday’s second half.
Plus, Liverpool was decidedly the better team over the two legs. With VAR, the Reds likely still would have progressed to the Champions League final.
But Monchi and Pallotta both have points. There is no reason to put off the introduction of VAR in the Champions League and Europa League. As long as it is used correctly, it improves the game, and likely would have made the semifinal between Liverpool and Roma tighter – and more just – than it was.
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