On Tuesday night, Barcelona succumbed to an unforeseen 1-0 defeat to Inter Milan in the Champions League at the San Siro.
While suffering a second successive loss in Europe was certainly a talking point, another headline was how a blatant handball committed by Denzel Dumfries late into the clash was not deemed as a penalty for the visitors.
Despite VAR taking a look at the call initially going in Inter’s favour, the second viewing also deemed the hosts as faultless in what seemed like a stonewall penalty. After the contest, the referee was quizzed by the Catalan side about the reasoning behind why they were not awarded a spot-kick.
“VAR told me it wasn’t a penalty, but no reason to justify the decision was explained,” he said, as relayed by journalist Santi Ovalle (h/t Reshad Rahman).
Ultimately, this is an indictment on VAR as a whole, which has understandably divided opinion since its introduction in European football.
As a result, Xavi was openly distraught about the late call in his post-match interview, saying, ”I’m angry. The referees should come out and explain their decisions because we don’t understand anything.
I asked the referee to explain his decisions after the match and he refused. What we lived today is injustice.”
In Barcelona’s previous Champions League encounter against Bayern Munich as well, they were not handed a penalty after Ousmane Dembele was quite clearly fouled inside the box.
However, one must confess that the fact that Dumfries’ failed attempt at heading the ball out of danger, in what led to the accidental handball was not seen as a clear-cut decision is alarmingly poor officiating.
Barcelona must pretend the decision never happened and strive to ensure they eventually secure qualification to the last-16.