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Portuguese Derby Leads to VAR Controversy

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Sporting vs Porto, a Portuguese derby that happened on the 17th October, ending in a tie but also with something much bigger than that… Huge controversy regarding one of the referee’s decision.

Despite the game being played without any supporters in the stadium emotions were still running high in this game. In the first instance, the referee gave a penalty in favour of Sporting Lisbon and expulsion of the defender who committed the foul.

The Lions, as Sporting is known, were enthusiastic and attacked relentlessly. The referee of this match, Luís Godinho, pointed out a foul made by Port’s player Zaidu Sanusi, who seemed to have touched Pedro Gonçalves foot and body. Godinho showed a red card to Porto’s defender and confirmed the penalty shot. The lions were happy and enthusiastic to get such a chance to change the game but, to their discontent, VAR came in and, in a polemic decision, reversed the referee’s decision.

The penalty was cancelled, as was Zaidu’s red card. Sporting’s coach, Rúben Amorim, could not believe in such decision and protested against it in a manner that the referee considered aggressive – being now Amorim the one to be sent away with a red card.

Needless to say that the press conference was heated when the expelled coach had the spotlights and microphones pointing to him. The whole VAR team was criticized by not only him, but also local news reporters and the general public. Portuguese referees have been criticized for a long time now, as situations like this happen a lot where it is later discovered that the initial decision was actually right after it was overturned by the VAR.

Yesterday, a new angle of the play was shown where Zaidu was clearly committing a foul – Frederico Varandas, Sporting’s representative, didn’t hold back to say “Do you think this decision would be reverted if it was Porto or Benfica? Never”, clearly saying that he thinks that Sporting isn’t getting fair play from the referees.

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