It happened again this past weekend. And this time it happened twice. After a series of bad calls made by the Liga MX refs in which either VAR hasn’t been used to correct or has been used to reaffirm said bad calls, Round 11 provided just two more explanations to why VAR only works as well as the people manning it.
Back in Round 6, it was Vincent Janssen who was victimized due to a bogus second yellow card shown by Fernando Guerrero in which the Dutch star accidentally stepped on an América defender’s hand. Replay clearly proved it was an accident. América ended up losing that game anyway. Another instance was in Round 9, when Chivas were awarded a penalty in the final minutes of their match with Querétaro which happened to be nodded at one. After reviewing the play numerous times and VAR clearly showing the Chivas player initiated contact with the Gallos defender who happened to be on the floor, by the way, the ref confirmed the penalty call. J.J. Macías ended up missing the penalty shot and the game ended 1-1. And those are just a couple, to say the very least.
This past weekend, we saw similar actions occur twice. The first one occurred on Friday, when Cruz Azul visited Mazatlán. With the score tied at one, the visitors were awarded a penalty. As “Cabecita” Rodríguez approached the ball to take the shot, his left foot slipped, and as he made contact with his right foot, the ball immediately ricocheted off his left, causing the ball to change direction, and instead of going to the left side (where the keeper was outstretched), the ball went in the goal right down the middle. The rule clearly states that the ball can only be touched once by the penalty taker. If the ball is touched more than once, the shot is annulled and the penalty is lost. Despite protests from all the Mazatlán FC players and the replay clearly showing the illegal goal, referee Oscar Macías Romo decided VAR review was not necessary and confirmed his illogical and incorrect ruling.
The second instance occurred yesterday night, with León hosting undefeated Pumas. Despite the fact that Pumas had been vastly dominated by Ambriz’s squad, the score was still 0-0. In the 41st minute, León pieced together a nice play which resulted in Ángel Mena beating Alfredo Talavera to the ball, which he touched with his left foot, searching for a teammate around the penalty spot. The ball was intercepted and cleared by Nicolas Freiré. However, as Talavera threw himself in an attempt to beat Mena to that ball, he appeared to tackle the Ecuadorian attacker as he fell dramatically to the ground. Referee César Ramos immediately called a penalty. But after further review, it’s clear that the keeper missed Mena competely, and León’s striker totally flopped, faking his fall. The call should’ve been overturned in the blink of an eye and Mena should’ve been booked on top of it for flopping. Instead, Talavera was shown his second yellow card of the match, leaving Pumas with ten men, and the penalty was confirmed. León took the 1-0 lead on that call and ended up having 75% ball possession for the match in their 2-0 win.
Refereeing commissioner Arturo Brizio has been under mounting pressure as the season has moved along, and rightfully so. He has been incapable of fixing the bugs that his referees have shown throughout the Guard1anes 2020 season. The interesting part is that these mistakes had only been made in favor of the big franchises until yesterday, when León were favored as well. If I had a question for league officials, it would be: Why fake interest in having real Fair Play and wasting money on a poorly utilized VAR technology system when it’s only used to give certain teams an advantage? In this case, we’re better off not having the VAR. Best have that money available to invest in more players or upgrade stadiums, especially considering the economic fallout COVID has caused. The mistakes that have been committed are absolutely fixable, and the fact refs and the league have chosen not to, sends a clear sign that bias still exists in Mexican Football.