VAR controversy strikes again at Women’s World Cup, ruining Marta’s record-setting day

Since its introduction to soccer, VAR (video assistant referee) has its fans and detractors.

Count the Brazil women’s soccer team among the detractors Thursday.

For the second consecutive day at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, VAR produced a controversial result.

On Thursday, it was in the second half of Brazil’s 3-2 loss to Australia, a battle of top 10 ranked teams in the world.

Australia’s prolific scorer Sam Kerr was in an offside position when a cross was looped into the box in the 66th minute. Brazilian defender Monica was in front of Kerr when she leaped to head the ball away, except it went right on target and slipped into Brazil’s net for an own goal.

It gave Australia a 3-2 lead temporarily as referee Esther Staubli, of Switzerland, was summoned to check via VAR.

Surely, it was going to be disallowed. Kerr was standing in an offide position when the ball was played, though she didn’t touch the ball at any point. However, Monica may not have knocked the ball at all if she knew Kerr couldn’t be involved in the play.

Instead, Staubli ruled the goal stood.

And it buoyed the Aussies past Brazil for a second straight World Cup, ruining a record-setting day by Brazil legend Marta.

Marta scored a penalty in the first half as Brazil built a 2-0 lead. Her goal, in her first match of this World Cup, set a record by becoming the first player — female or male — to score in five different World Cups.

Brazil sits even with Australia and Italy at three points in Group C, finishing group play against the Italians next Tuesday. Italy plays Jamaica on Friday with a chance to take the pole position in the group.

Sports reporter Jason has covered high school, college and pro sports since joining the Bradenton Herald in 2010. He’s won Florida Press Club awards for sports feature and column writing. He currently writes college and pro sports stories for the McClatchy East Region real-time team.