FIFA World Cup: VAR goal decision in Japan win over Spain explained after Germany knocked out

Just to rub salt into the wounds, German fans were not given access to the critical camera angle that perfectly captured the controversial moment that has divided the world.

The biggest on-field controversy of the World Cup so far arrived on Friday morning as Germany was knocked out on the back of Japan’s stunning comeback win against Spain.

On a morning of high drama there was a brief moment where both Spain and Germany were headed for the exit when Costa Rica took the lead against Germany before the 2014 world champions scored three goals in the final 20 minutes to win 4-2.

It wasn’t enough — and there was outcry in the minutes after full-time when it became clear Germany’s fate at the tournament was ultimately decided by a VAR decision to award Japan its second goal despite the ball appearing to cross the byline near the side netting of the goal.

Japan went ahead 2-1 in the 51st minute when Ao Tanaka scored off a cross in from Kaoru Mitoma, who was stretched to his limits desperately trying to reach the ball before it crossed the line.

To the naked eye the ball appeared to cross the line and the TV replays that followed only added further evidence to suggest the goal should not have been awarded.

The touchline official thought so too and raised his flag to signal the ball was out — but Video Assistant Referee Fernando Guerrero of Mexico overturned the decision.

The technology proved that the ball had been kept in play by just a few millimetres — but that evidence was not shown to viewers around the world watching the match through the host broadcast service.

Crucially, FIFA does not share the VAR footage being examined — as it is during Premier League matches. The all-important angle was not shown until after the match.

For the VAR to award the goal there had to be definitive proof the ball had not travelled out and it was only from the aerial view of the goal line camera that it could have been seen that the ball remained inside the field of play.

The angle showed a small amount of the ball was overhanging the line. It was the only shot that mattered as it showed the curvature of the ball sitting above part of the line, despite the optical illusion of other angles showing the ball appearing to bounce completely beyond the line.

It left commentators fuming that the moment went unexplained to millions of fans around the globe.

English great Gary Neville said in commentary for ITV: “The high cam that is on the line does suggest that there might be some of the ball over the line.

“But from that very first offside goal, Ecuador vs Qatar in game one, I’ve struggled with it a little bit that we’ve not been given the correct angles. It just doesn’t feel right.

“In the Premier League we see all the VAR cameras, here we don’t.”

Scottish ITV commentator Ally McCoist said the sequence of events was “unbelievable” considering nobody could see why the original decision was overturned.

“That is absolutely amazing,” he said.

“I thought for all intents and purposes, I thought it was out, obviously not they’ve scrutinised through VAR.”

It was a tough way to bow out, but it may ease the pain of the German team to learn its exit was of its own undoing — not the VAR.

It led to a sweeping trend on social media of people explaining the optical illusion — praising the official for making the tough call.

Justice was served.

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