Rabat – Italian referee Mauro Bergonzi has joined the list of people who have heavily criticized FIFA and the referees of the Morocco-Portugal World Cup game over their failure to use the video assistant referee (VAR).
While VAR has been used in this World Cup to assist referees throughout the competition, Morocco was deprived of its chances to use the technology on June 20 to contest mistakes made by Portuguese footballers.
Bergonzi told Italian television Mediaset that the American referee, Mark Geiger, denied Morocco a deserved penalty kick after Portuguese footballer Fonte crashed into Khalid Boutaib in the 30th minute of the game in the penalty zone.
Morocco asked for VAR technology to be used after the alleged mistake, but the referee refused Morocco’s demand.
Fonti’s criticized intervention was not the only mistake made by the Portuguese team in the game. In the 26th minute of the match, footballer Raphael Guerreiro pushed Moroccan winger Nordin Amrabat in the penalty zone. The footballer and other Moroccan footballers then asked the referee to check the VAR, but his request was not obliged.
After the game, Morocco’s coach Hervé Renard and his Atlas Lions expressed disappointment over the lack of VAR technology in the game. In a statement to the press, Amrabat questioned the fair play during the game and said that Geiger asked for Portugal’s Ronaldo’s kit, a violation of FIFA rules.
“This is the World Cup, it’s not a circus,” Amrabat told the Netherlands news service NOS.
FIFA, however, denied the allegations, emphasizing that its referees “are under clear instructions with regard to their behavior and relationship with the teams and it can be confirmed that Mr Geiger has acted in an exemplary and professional manner as an appointed match official.”
The impacts of VAR in the 2018 World Cup and in the Morocco-Portugal game specifically have made international news headlines recently.
VAR was used in several other games, including the Australia-Denmark game. The technology awarded a penalty for Australia to score an equalizer.
The referee’s choice not to use VAR in the June 20 game pushed Moroccan fans to launch a petition to FIFA. The petition, on Change.org, has generated more than double the signatures it first called for, and now has over 34,000.
The petition reads: “Anyone who watched the match will realize how much unfair it was: Morocco should’ve had 2 PK [penalty kicks] but no one bothered to check the Var.”