Should Canada have had three VAR penalties vs. Belgium?

We’re analysing every VAR decision made throughout all 64 games at the 2022 World Cup. Find out why Canada only got one of three possible VAR penalties against Belgium.

After each game, we take a look at the major incidents to examine and explain the process in terms of VAR protocol and the Laws of the Game.

– World Cup VAR review in full: Every decision analysed

VAR overturn: Penalty for handball by Carrasco

What happened: Tajon Buchanan‘s shot in the eighth minute was blocked by Yannick Carrasco. The Canada player appealed for a penalty straight away but the game continued.

VAR decision: Penalty, missed by Alphonso Davies.

VAR review: A simple decision for the VAR, Juan Soto of Venezuela.

Carrasco’s arm was away from his body and had created a barrier to goal, and in the modern game this kind of incident is awarded as handball.

The Belgium player was booked, with the offence being an automatic caution.

Possible penalty: Foul by Vertonghen on Buchanan

What happened: In the 13th minute, Buchanan went down inside the area after a challenge from Jan Vertonghen, but the flag went up for offside.

VAR decision: No penalty.

VAR review: A strange situation, because the assistant got the offside completely wrong. The ball was actually passed back towards his own goal by Eden Hazard, and not by a Canada player, so there was no possible offside offence. However, the possible foul by Vertonghen happened before Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe blew his whistle to stop play, so a VAR review for a penalty was still possible.

A replay showed that Vertonghen got a toe to the ball before he caught Buchanan, which is absolutely crucial in determining whether the decision goes to a VAR review. Without that touch, the offside would have been cancelled and a penalty awarded to Canada.

Possible penalty: Foul by Witsel on Laryea

What happened: Shortly before half-time Richie Laryea broke into the area when running side-by-side with Belgium’s Axel Witsel and went down claiming for a penalty.

VAR decision: No penalty.

VAR review: The kind of decision which is best left to the on-field referee, rather than the VAR.

While there is certainly contact by Witsel on Laryea, it’s not through making a challenge. That doesn’t rule out the possibility of a penalty, but it would not be seen as a clear and obvious error by the referee not to award one with the players running alongside each other.


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