Bayern Munich’s 0-0 draw at RB Leipzig was highlighted by a controversial VAR decision that disallowed Leon Goretzka’s volley in the 54th minute that would have given Bayern a 1-0 lead. After the video review, it was deemed that Robert Lewandowski was marginally in an offside position during the buildup to the goal. The replay shows that when Goretzka’s initial shot was taken, Lewandowski is just about level with Leipzig’s Willi Orban when the ball leaves Goretzka’s foot. If anything, Lewandowski was only off by a milimeter or so.
Both Uli Hoeness and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge were in attendance at the Red Bull arena. Speaking after the match (via AZ), Hoeness vented his frustration over the VAR incident. The Bayern president didn’t hold back with his criticism of the decision when he was asked about it by reporters after the match:
It’s the joke of the year, because it wasn’t a clear mistake. VAR is there to correct clear mistakes. A millimeter isn’t any advantage.
A huge decision from VAR denies Bayern the lead!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) May 11, 2019
Goretzka's goal is waved off after a lengthy review concludes Lewandowski was offside. Wow! pic.twitter.com/QvNrhQSN1o
With Bayern’s 7th consecutive Bundesliga title at stake, it’s difficult not to be biased about this VAR decision, but it still seems as if it was pretty harsh from referee Manuel Gräfe. VAR is, among other things, in place to check for infringements during goal-scoring sequences, but typically the video evidence has to be clear and obvious for a decision to be overturned. The fact that it was only Lewandowski’s fingertips combined with the short amount of time Gräfe spent assessing the video replay makes the situation seem harsh, especially since there was nothing Lewandowski could have done to get out of the way of Goretzka’s shot.
FIFA’s official ruling of VAR under the “Goals” section states:
The role of the VAR is to assist the referee to determine whether there was an infringement that means a goal should not be awarded. As the ball has crossed the line, play is interrupted so there is no direct impact on the game.
Where there should perhaps be some more clarity in the “Goals” section is what part of the body of the player under review for offside positioning is relevant. In this case, Lewandowski’s hand was offside, but most of Leipzig defender Willi Orban’s body was behind his; who really had more momentum in that situation, and did Lewandowski’s deflection really directly impact the goal? The deflection found it’s way to Kingsley Coman, who sent a cross in, which Leipzig cleared right to Goretzka before he volleyed it home. Under the current ruling of VAR, the goal was rightfully disallowed, but the problem is that the ruling is far too vague and fails to address situations like the one that occurred today.