Mark Halsey column: Dejan Lovren penalty decision was baffling but use of VAR has been otherwise excellent at Euro 2020

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Overall I think the refereeing standard at Euro 2020 has been absolutely excellent.

Clear leadership by Roberto Rosetti (UEFA’s head of referees) to his officials has enabled us to enjoy the tournament. VAR has been excellent too, with minimum interference meaning maximum benefit.

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We’ve had a couple of incidents this past week, good and bad. In the Ukraine vs North Macedonia game, there was a free-kick taken, and you can see Daniel Avramovsky has jumped for the ball with his arm in an unnatural position making himself bigger.

The referee isn’t going to see the handball because he’s taken up the correct decision for the free-kick, but that’s where VAR was at its best.

VAR correctly intervened on a clear and obvious error and recommended a review, and once viewed, the on-pitch ref gave a penalty.

Mark Halsey
Former Premier League and FIFA referee Mark Halsey is a columnist for CaughtOffside.com

If we move on to Croatia vs Czech Republic there was a penalty given after Dejan Lovren challenged Patrik Schick in the box.

For me, that was normal contact. Lovren’s arms were giving him the elevation he needed, and his eyes remained on the ball at all times. Schick comes in from behind so Lovren doesn’t see him, and then crashes into Lovren’s arm.

Lovren headed the ball away, Schick was left with a bloody nose.

To my amazement the VAR said to review the incident, and even watching in slow motion it’s clear that nothing untoward took place.

I was sure that the Spanish referee would stick with his original decision once he viewed the footage, and I couldn’t believe it when he gave it as a penalty.

You have to have the courage of your convictions in these instances, and stick with what you gave in the first place.

It’s one of those decisions that Roberto Rossetti will look at and show to his referees as an example of why VAR doesn’t need to get involved.

On the whole, over the week or so that the Euros have been going, there’s not really been an awful lot to moan about. Let’s hope that continues.

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