The most controversial referee decision of the match day was made in the second division this time: FC Schalke 04 struggled with a penalty decision for Werder Bremen following an unnecessary VAR intervention. In the House of Lords, not everything is going smoothly for the referees on this match day, as the sporting management of the referees also notes.
SV Werder Bremen against FC Schalke 04 – that doesn’t sound like a second division game, but rather a game from two well-known clubs in the upper house, which it was until last season. Due to the short-term resignation of Werder trainer Markus Anfang, against whom an investigation was initiated on suspicion of falsification of his corona vaccination certificate, the encounter received additional explosiveness and attention. And finally, the game culminated on Saturday night, deep in stoppage time, when the referee decision was made which was the most heatedly debated that weekend.
The hosts tried desperately to make a draw from the 0-1 deficit. After a long cross into the Schalke penalty area, substitute Roger Assalé came six meters from the guests’ goal to the ball. He passed Henning Matriciani, who had also just come onto the field, and then went down. Referee Tobias Stieler allowed the game to continue while Bremen vehemently demanded a penalty. In fact, they finally got it awarded, because the VAR intervened with a review recommendation – and the referee was convinced by the images.
That was surprising: At best, there was a slight contact on Assalé’s right foot, caused by Matriciani’s unsuccessful attempt to reach the ball. The Bremer fell with a delay after an intermediate step, and the seemingly theatrical way he did it did not go well with the mere light touch by the Schalke. In short: The contact was not decisive in Assalé losing the ball and falling, which meant the goal was lost. That there was no penalty was definitely okay. Nevertheless, the video assistant switched on and advised Stieler to go to the monitor.
2. Bundesliga in view: Inappropriate VAR intervention against Schalke
Because the Referee was not aware of this situation and the VAR was of the opinion that something serious was being overlooked? Or did Stieler perceive the process but, in the opinion of the video assistant, clearly and obviously wrongly rated it? In any case: The question arises, “to what extent there was contact between the Schalke defender and the Bremen attacker in this process,” wrote the sports management of the Bundesliga referees on the DFB website. In any case, the TV images did not provide any evidence that it was clearly wrong not to give a penalty kick in this situation. The intervention of the VAR was therefore not appropriate.
The penalty kick that Werder converted to the final score 1: 1 should not have been given, as the sporting management of the referees thinks. Schalke were even of the opinion that they should have received a free kick because Assalé had touched the ball with his arm when it was accepted. But this arm was not in an unnatural position, there was no enlargement of the body area, and an intention to stop the ball was also not evident. So handball was not a criminal offense. The referee must have been convinced of this, otherwise he should not have given the penalty, after all, the ball contact with the arm was shortly before the alleged foul.
The VAR intervention in Gladbach was also unnecessary
In the first division game between Borussia Mönchengladbach and SpVgg Greuther Fürth (4: 0) there was also an intervention by the VAR, which was not necessary from the point of view of the referees. After a duel in the home team’s penalty area between Denis Zakaria and Fürth’s Jamie Leweling in the 49th minute, referee Benjamin Brand allowed the game to continue, whereupon the video assistant intervened with a review recommendation. Unlike in Bremen, the referee saw no reason to impose a penalty after looking at the pictures. In fact, the situation was rather vague.
Zakaria straddled to block the ball, but came a little too late and only touched Lewling’s foot, the sports management of the referees describes this scene. The pictures showed “no clear hit picture”, but only a contact that “does not go beyond touching”. How the referee evaluates this contact is left to his discretion, so the VAR should stay out of it in any case – with a penalty whistle as well as with the decision to let play continue. A comprehensible judgment, because either way there is neither a clear and obvious error nor a serious overlooked incident.
Jonathan Tah’s entry was clearly a penalty
In the match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and VfL Bochum (1-0), however, the opposite of what happened in Schalke and Gladbach happened: The video assistant did not intervene, although he should have done it. After 41 minutes, the Leverkusen defender Jonathan Tah missed the ball in his own penalty area, whereupon Christopher Antwi-Adjei reached the ball with a long stride.
Tah tried to hit the ball away, but only hit the Bochumer’s left heel from behind, who then fell. Referee Daniel Schlager let the game continue and received no advice from the video center in Cologne to go to the review area.
However, this review recommendation should have been given, as judged by the sports management. Because there was a foul game in which “the TV images clearly document the process and the hit image”.
For this reason, “an intervention by the video assistant would have been appropriate to give the referee the opportunity to look at the situation again and to come to an impeccable decision, in this case a penalty”. Apparently, however, Schlager had come to the conclusion that the contact caused by Tah was not the cause of Antwi-Adjei’s fall, and the VAR had not recognized a clear wrong decision.
Leverkusen’s Frimpong also got off too lightly with yellow
An intervention by the video assistant would have been appropriate eleven minutes earlier when the Leverkusen-based Jeremie Frimpong stepped over the ball and hit Elvis Rexhbecaj’s left thigh with his open sole. The referee only showed the yellow card – the foul may not have been a direct hit for him because Frimpong slipped his foot on it and grazed the Bochumer’s right knee.
But the pictures make it quite clear that boarding was dangerous to health and a red card would have been the clearly better decision – so clear that one can speak of a clear mistake that should have called the VAR on the scene. However, this scene is not mentioned in the declaration of the sports management.
Superiors of the Bundesliga referees: come to terms with mistakes from the weekend
The superiors of the Bundesliga referees rightly state that recently “things went very well for a long time and the high intervention threshold for interventions by video assistants is generally well accepted because it has been implemented in a largely standardized manner so far”. However, the errors of the weekend have to be dealt with, and the evidence of the image material is crucial.
If there is “absolute clarity about a mistake”, as in Leverkusen, there must be an intervention, otherwise – as in Bremen – the decision must remain on the field. In any case, “detective detail work” does not speak “for evidence”. That sounds like a memento.
According to a report by “Bild am Sonntag”, several as yet unvaccinated football professionals from FC Bayern Munich have to forego part of their salaries. According to this, the Bayern bosses should have informed those four players who had previously had to be in quarantine of this decision after a conversation last Thursday. And withdrawal of money should not be the only measure. Photo credit: imago images