|Kashima Antlers became the first Japanese side to reach the final of the Club World Cup|
Japanese champions Kashima Antlers were the beneficiaries after an off-field official known as a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) called Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai’s attention to an infringement by Atletico Nacional’s Orlando Berrio.
Kassai indicated that he would review the incident which he watched on a computer screen at the side of the pitch before deciding to award a penalty.
Shoma Doi converted the spot-kick for Kashima, who went on to beat the South American champions 3-0.
Berrio tripped Daigo Nishi as the players moved into the box to challenge for a free kick, but the decision provoked anger from fans who thought Nishi was offside when the free kick was taken.
There was also concern about the time taken to make the decision.
The ball remained in play for 45 seconds after the penalty incident during which Atletico lost possession and Kashima launched another attack which was cleared by Atletico who then counter-attacked and won a throw-in.
Atletico were about to take the throw when Kassai called for a review, one minute and 10 seconds after the incident. It took another one minute and five seconds before the penalty was awarded.
“After receiving information about a missed incident from Video Assistant Referee Danny Makkelie, referee Viktor Kassai made the TV signal to indicate that he would conduct an on-field review of footage via the pitch-side monitor,” FIFA said in a statement.
“Prior to that, the assistant referee had correctly applied the ‘wait and see’ technique with regard to the offside position of the player who was fouled.”
“The offside offence never materialised because the player was unable to challenge the opponent for the ball,” it added
Football’s world governing body has called the technology a big step forward for the game but had also said it was entering “uncharted waters”.
The trial during seven matches in Japan involves off-field VARs monitoring the action and calling the referee’s attention to “clear mistakes in match-changing situations,” such as goals, penalty decisions, direct red cards and mistaken identity.
Its trial use at the Club World Cup – a tournament for the world’s continental title holders plus the host nation’s champions – follows the successful introduction of goal-line technology used to rule when a ball has crossed the goal line.
Leagues in 12 countries have confirmed they will participate in a two-year experiment with VARs.
“Today, we were victims of this innovation,” said Atletico coach Reinaldo Rueda. “However, we can’t say that we lost the game because of technology.