Technology failure led to mistake in Australian title match

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NEWCASTLE: A “technical failure” in the video review system, the same technology which will be used at next month’s World Cup in Russia, resulted in the incorrect awarding of a goal that ultimately decided the A-League championship, Football Federation Australia (FFA) said Sunday.

The FFA conducted a review into the decision to allow a hotly-disputed goal from Kosta Barbarouses in his team’s 1-0 win over the Newcastle Jets in Saturday’s A-League grand final.

Television replays showed that James Donachie, who assisted in the championship-deciding goal, was in an offside position, so the goal should have been disallowed. But the FFA said the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), who adjudicated on the goal, did not have access to the same footage because of a technical glitch, so allowed the goal to stand.

The FFA’s head of the A-League, Greg O’Rourke, said in a statement on Sunday that the FFA’s review determined a technical malfunction was to blame.

O’Rourke said that the Hawkeye software that uploads the broadcast feed into the VAR system was partially lost just seconds before Victory’s goal, and by the time it was restored, it was too late to change the decision because the match had restarted.

“VAR was introduced here and in other parts of the world as a technology-based solution to correct the human errors that inevitably are made from time to time when officials are making judgments in split seconds,” O’Rourke said.

“On this occasion the technology itself failed and the broadcast angles required were unavailable. We are working with Hawkeye to thoroughly understand why it did and what can be done to prevent this happening again.”

Soccer’s world governing body FIFA announced in March that it would use VAR at this year’s World Cup, which will be held in Russia from June 14-July 15, although opinion on the reliability of the technology remains divided.

The decision to allow Melbourne Victory’s goal prompted more complaints about the system, with Newcastle fans crying foul over the ruling after the Jets came up short in their attempt to go from last place in the 2016-17 season to league champions.

Newcastle hadn’t appeared in a grand final since 2008, when it won its only A-League title, while Melbourne secured its fourth title with the controversial win.

“We are extremely disappointed at this failure of the VAR technology,” O’Rourke said. “We understand that this happened only once this season (but) it was at a most critical time.

“All parties desire the technology to be failure proof and that is what we will be striving for. This is important not just for the A-League but for other leagues around the world and for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia at which VAR will be used for the first time.”—AP

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