New Zealand coach Tom Sermanni says he has been disappointed in World Cup VAR

By The Canadian Press
June 14, 2019 - 1:45pm

GRENOBLE, France — Count New Zealand coach Tom Sermanni among those who believe soccer's video replay needs a tweak.

Asked about the use of VAR (video assistant referee) so far at the Women's World Cup, the veteran Scot diplomatically raised some objections.

"Can I be honest? And hopefully I can say this without any disrespect to anybody, I've been a bit disappointed in it," he told a news conference Friday in advance of Saturday's game between the football Ferns and Canada.

"I think the idea is great. But I think sometimes the concept and idea, when it works out, as it comes out, is not always fantastic. My concerns would be I think it's stopped the flow of the games a lot. I think it has taken an inordinate amount of time over decisions that are incredibly marginal. I think it's made some very poor decisions."

Sermanni pointed to the penalties conceded by South Africa against Spain and Norway against France, calling them "very poor football decisions."

With the game tied 1-1, Norway's Ingrid Engen cleared the ball and caught Marion Torrent with her foot on the follow-through. The penalty was called after the referee watched video of the incident.

There was a similar incident involving South Africa's Nothando Vilakazi, who also caught a Spanish player with her follow through in clearing the ball out of the box. Vilakazi also got a second yellow on the play, resulting in her ejection.

Sermanni wondered how the defenders involved in the plays could have done anything else.

The New Zealand coach said he hoped the process will go through some refinement, "whatever that is. And whether it's case of the VAR gets used only if there's a clear error as opposed to a toenail error."

The longer the VAR delay, the more the flow of the game gets disrupted "and I don't think that's good for football," he added.

Sermanni has also coached the U.S. and Australian women's teams and was an assistant to then-Canada coach John Herdman at the 2015 Women's World Cup.

It's the first time VAR has been used at the Women's World Cup.


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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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