VAR's wildest moments: Diaz offside, Griezmann goal ruled out

Love it or loathe it, VAR is now an established part of the modern game. When it was introduced back in 2017 we were all lulled into a false sense of security: there would be no more controversy and every decision would be correct.

It’s not quite worked out like that as human error cannot be eliminated.

From wrongly disallowed goals, to penalties scored after full-time, VAR is never far from the headlines.

VAR has gone to the very top of the game, having an influence on the results of World Cup and Champions League finals. Countless matches in competitions all over the world have been either aided or — depending on your own opinion of the controversial officiating tool — blighted by its involvement.

It’s worth noting that by “wild moments” we’re not talking about common contentious fouls and free kicks, nor are we raking back through all the countless times players have been adjudged to be fractionally offside at an atomic level. Instead we focus on some of the notable occurrences when VAR intervention has led truly baffling scenes to break out during a football match.

– How VAR has affected every Premier League club
– VAR in the Premier League: The ultimate guide
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The VAR gets it all wrong to disallow Griezmann goal (Tunisia vs. France, 2022 World Cup)

Players protest as the referee goes over to review an offside goal after restarting the game. Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Antoine Griezmann thought he had scored a dramatic equaliser for France in the 98th minute, but there was a VAR review for offside. But it turned out to be an illegal review.

Video evidence showed that referee Matthew Conger had restarted the match, before blowing the final whistle. That meant that by VAR protocol it wasn’t possible to review the offside offence. The goal was disallowed and France lost 1-0 to a Tunisia side that headed out of the tournament in the group stage.

France protested against the disallowed goal, but FIFA rejected that appeal. Luckliy Les Bleus were already through to the round of 16 and the incident made no difference to their position on top of Group D.

VAR fails to overturn Diaz offside (Tottenham vs. Liverpool, Premier League)

Luis Diaz was onside … but the VAR still somehow disallowed the goal. BBC

An almighty error as the VAR, Darren England, somehow messed up the onfield decision and thought he was checking a goal, when he was in fact checking a disallowed goal.

England worked out that Liverpool forward Luis Díaz was onside, and told the match referee “check complete.” But this meant he was saying the on-field decision was correct … when the on-field decision was offside.

The game was 0-0 at the time, and Spurs then scored a minute later and went on to win 2-1.

– The VAR Review: What went wrong for Luis Diaz’s offside goal

VAR misses a defender to rule out a goal for offside (Juventus vs. Salernitana, Serie A)

Tensions mount on the sidelines after Juve’s goal was ruled out. Massimiliano Ferraro/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The game in September 2022 was 2-2 in added time when Juventus thought they had snatched all three points when substitute Arkadiusz Milik headed home, but the goal was disallowed following a VAR review for offside.

Leonardo Bonucci was judged to be distracting the goalkeeper as Milik’s effort flew towards goal.

But the VAR had missed a Salernitana player close to the corner flag who was playing the whole Juventus attack onside. Juve had two players sent off as they protested.

The incident led to Serie A bringing in semi-automated offside technology in the middle of the season.

Haller escapes red card as VAR botches offside call (Borussia Dortmund vs. Heidenheim, Bundesliga)

In September 2023, Heidenheim were trailing 2-1 at Dortmund in the 76th minute when Jan-Niklas Beste moved into the area and was pulled back by Sébastien Haller. The referee pointed to the penalty spot, but was told by the VAR that Beste was offside. The penalty was cancelled.

Dortmund then decided to substitute Haller, during which time the VAR realised he had made an error in the offside review. There had been a “deliberate play” of the ball by Haller, which reset the phase and meant Beste was actually onside.

The referee was sent to the pitchside monitor and change the decision to a penalty. Haller should have been sent off for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, but the officials had allowed him to be taken off. The Dortmund player was only booked on the bench, but Heidenheim should have been playing against 10 men. At least they got their penalty … eventually. It was scored and the game ended 2-2.

Penalty awarded at half-time (Mainz vs. Freiburg)


History was made in the Bundesliga in April 2018 when Mainz were awarded a penalty during half-time of their match against Freiburg. The referee had signalled the end of the first half and sent the players to their dressing rooms after Mainz had a penalty appeal turned down when right-back Daniel Brosinski’s cross deflected off Freiburg centre-back Marc-Oliver Kempf’s hand and was saved by goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow.

As the players headed for the locker rooms, referee Guido Winkmann ran over to the other side of the pitch to watch the replay on a monitor. He awarded the hosts a penalty, recalling the entire Freiburg side and the handful of Mainz players who had left the pitch.

Six minutes after the half-time whistle had blown, Pablo de Blasis scored the penalty to put Mainz 1-0 up. He added a second to seal a 2-0 win, though only after the start of the second half was delayed as ground staff had to clear reams of toilet roll thrown on to the pitch by irate Freiburg fans during the break.

VAR malfunction decides title (Melbourne Victory vs. Newcastle Jets, A-League)