Former refs disagree on France penalty, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Former refs disagree on France penalty

Former Fifa referees Dermot Gallagher and Graham Poll had differing takes on the most contentious decision of yesterday morning's (Singapore time) World Cup final in Moscow.

France and Croatia were level at 1-1 in an evenly contested match when Argentine referee Nestor Pitana was alerted to a possible handball and, after checking the off-field screen, he decided Croatia's Ivan Perisic had handled.

Antoine Griezmann converted the penalty and France went on to win 4-2.

Even after the use of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, it remained a highly contentious call.

The incident arose when Griezmann drove in a corner and, as Perisic jumped with Blaise Matuidi, the ball made contact with the hand of the Croatia winger. Whether it was deliberate, or whether Perisic's hand was in an unnatural position was not clear, even after repeated viewing of the incident, according to Reuters.

Before the incident, Griezmann had appeared to dive to win a free-kick from which France scored their opener.

Former English Premier League ref Poll admitted that Pitana had been conned by the France attacker for Les Bleus' opener, but was adamant the Argentinian later made the right call to give France a penalty.

"Pitana and his on-field team were unsighted and, as it was a serious offence which was not seen, it was correct to review it," the 54-year-old wrote in his Daily Mail column.

"VAR did its job in suggesting that the on-field referee look at replays and decide for himself...

"There was plenty of debate around what constitutes deliberate handball, but the movement of the arm to the ball means it was deliberate and a penalty was the correct decision."

However, his former EPL colleague Gallagher saw things differently.

He told Sky Sports: "It's 100 per cent not a penalty. He's far, far too close to the ball as it comes over the forward's head.

"It just strikes him - he doesn't move his hand to the ball, he's got no intention of handling the ball.

"The law says it has to be deliberate. His arms aren't in an unorthodox position - it just doesn't tick any boxes."

Expectedly, Croatia were unhappy at the penalty award, with captain Luka Modric calling it the turning point of the final.

Pundits largely took his side.

Analysing the game for Russian broadcaster RT, goalkeeping great Peter Schmeichel accused Pitana of "stealing" the game from Croatia.

He added: "It is the moment. It is why France won the game...

"This decision for me is crazy. If that was a penalty, then we'd have 20 penalties in every game."

His former Manchester United colleague Roy Keane was equally scathing in ITV's studios, saying: "That penalty decision disgusts me. The Croatian players deserve better than that.

"I'm fuming. It's a disgraceful decision."

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, meanwhile, was keen to point out: "It's the referee's mistake not VAR! VAR is just a replay of the incident."