Sun, Jul 07, 2019 - Page 11 News List

Argentina seeks ‘interference’ answers

VAR BLOCK?A Web site reported that the Brazilian president’s security team used a radio signal to block the referee’s communication with the VAR team on Tuesday


The Argentine Football Association on Friday asked the company supplying the video assistant referee (VAR) technology used at the Copa America to clarify whether Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s security team interfered with Tuesday’s semi-final.

Argentina lost 2-0 to hosts Brazil in front of the watching Bolsonaro at the Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, but were infuriated that they were denied two penalty claims that replays suggested should have been given.

What angered them most was that Ecuadoran referee Roddy Zambrano refused to consult VAR to check the validity of their claims.

“We’re very concerned that Brazilian media and news Web sites are talking about possible problems and interference in the system of communication between the VOR [video operating room] and the field officials,” the association said on its Web site.

It is the second complaint made by the association about the semi-final, having protested on Wednesday to the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) over “serious and gross refereeing errors.”

“According to the aforementioned versions, this interference was caused by President Jair Bolsonaro’s security teams,” said the statement, which was signed by association refereeing director Federico Beligoy.

On Wednesday, the Brazilian Web site reported that there had been a problem with VAR before the semi-final match, claiming a “radio signal used by” Bolsonaro’s security team affected the referee’s communication channel with the VAR team.

Beligoy mentioned the two incidents that most angered the Argentines, one in which television replays showed Brazil captain Dani Alves body check Argentina forward Sergio Aguero to the ground in the penalty area in the build-up to the hosts’ clinching their second goal.

The other incident, later in the match, saw Brazil midfielder Arthur shoulder charge defender Nicolas Otamendi in the throat in another off-the-ball incident inside the penalty area.

Neither incident was seen by Zambrano, nor referred to the VAR team to see if an offense was committed.

In the association’s previous complaint, president Claudio Tapia hit out at Bolsonaro’s behavior, describing it as a “political demonstration” that is against both CONMEBOL and FIFA regulations.

Bolsonaro went to pitchside at halftime and waved enthusiastically to fans, and at one point climbed onto advertising hoardings and waved the national flag.

Copa America organizing committee chief Thiago Jannuzzi on Friday said that Bolsonaro’s presence at the semi-final was “normal” and that he is expected to attend the final as well.

Tapia also said that Zambrano had “unjustifiably omitted the use of VAR in at least two specific moves that clearly influenced the final result of the match.”

Argentina star Lionel Messi complained about the refereeing immediately after the game, adding that “Brazil were the hosts and they’re managing a lot in CONMEBOL these days.”

Beligoy said that the latest request was aimed at “getting hold of a detailed report on what actually happened.”

Argentina were to play in yesterday’s third-place playoff against Chile, while Brazil meet Peru in today’s final at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana.

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