The Whistle: Round 22 refereeing and VAR incidents explained

Each week a-league.com.au will be speaking with FFA Director of Referees Ben Wilson to review some of the contentious refereeing and VAR incidents from the weekend’s matches.

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Let’s start in Newcastle with the VAR Review leading to a re-take of the Newcastle Jets penalty kick.

In the 94th minute of the match, the Newcastle Jets were awarded a penalty kick after Jonathan Aspropotamitis fouled Roy O’Donovan in the penalty area.

The penalty kick was saved and Daniel Georgievski scored from the rebound. The VAR checked the goal and determined that players from both teams, including Georgievski, had encroached into the penalty area before the penalty kick was taken. Georgievski was directly involved in the play by scoring the goal.

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Normally the VAR does not get involved in encroachment when a goal is scored or missed because it is not within the IFAB VAR Protocol.

However, the Protocol requires the VAR to intervene on penalty kicks when an attacker or defender encroaches and ‘becomes directly involved in play if the penalty kick rebounds from the goalpost, crossbar or goalkeeper’. This is what happened.

The referee reviewed the footage. He correctly disallowed the goal and had the penalty kick retaken. This decision should have been recommended by the VAR without the referee needing to make an on-field review.

WATCH: Jets denied goal for encroachment

In Melbourne, Victory had a goal awarded after an offside decision was overturned by the VAR. Can you talk us through this process?

With VAR in use in the Hyundai A-League, Assistant Referees have been instructed to delay flagging for offside in immediate goal scoring situations until the attacking phase has concluded.

This instruction allows offside errors to be corrected by the VAR because play is not stopped until after the goal is scored.


In this incident, Kosta Barbarouses scored for Melbourne Victory and was subsequently flagged for being offside in the lead-up. Because the Assistant Referee had delayed flagging until after the goal had been scored the VAR was able to check the incident.

After a VAR review, the on-field decision was seen to be clearly wrong because Barbarouses was kept onside by the foot of Ruon Tongyik. The decision was overturned and the goal was correctly awarded. 

WATCH: Offside call overturned for Victory

Finally, in Wellington, the Wanderers were awarded a penalty kick after the referee initially only awarded a free kick.

In the 67th minute of the match, the Wanderers were awarded a free kick after Max Burgess held Bruce Kamau on the edge of the penalty area.

The Laws of the Game say that if a defender starts holding an attacker outside the penalty area and continues holding inside the penalty area, the referee must award a penalty kick.

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In this incident, the VAR determined that the Kamau was still being held on the line, which is part of the penalty area. After an on-field review, the referee overturned his decision and awarded a penalty kick.

In my opinion, it was not a clear and obvious error for the referee to award a direct free kick outside the box. Based on the footage available, I can’t be sure that there was holding on the line and I don’t think the VAR needed to intervene here.

WATCH: Wanderers awarded a penalty