During Week 13, Minnesota United appealed for a penalty kick after Seattle Sounders’ Abdoulaye Cissoko appeared to hold back Robin Lod, who had burst into the penalty area, was centrally located and only had the goalkeeper to beat. He had taken a good touch on the ball, giving him control in a position that afforded him an obvious goalscoring opportunity.
The holding offense was not particularly blatant, but there was enough contact to impact Lod’s forward movement. The on-field decision was to play on, and the VAR was in the process of reviewing the incident to determine if a clear and obvious error had been made by not awarding a penalty kick when Minnesota United regained possession of the ball and commenced a new attack, from which they subsequently scored.
At this point, the VAR’s focus switched to reviewing the goal. The check was completed and the goal was confirmed. A number of people reached out to PRO via social media to ask if the DOGSO incident was still reviewable and whether Cissoko was still open to being disciplined, even after the goal was confirmed.
In the latest edition of Inside Video Review, PRO’s Manager of Video Review, Greg Barkey, explained: “The VAR ‘check completed’ the goal and did not go back to recommend a review for the penalty plus red card incident. Cissoko, who had committed the offense against Lod, was allowed to stay on the field. The referee makes decisions as if there was no VAR and teams cannot choose between a penalty kick and a DOGSO or a goal, even as the former might be considered a better strategic option in some circumstances.
“At the time when the goal was scored, Cissoko had not been penalized for any offense. If the incident had been reviewed, it would have required a penalty kick restart and the subsequent goal could not be awarded. In a way, it’s easiest to see this play as the referee and the VAR applying the advantage clause on the Cissoko tackle which then ended with the goal.
“It would not have been appropriate for the goal to be taken away in these circumstances but by allowing it to stand, the opportunity to issue a red card to Cissoko for DOGSO was lost. The VAR was correct not to recommend a review in this case.”
While no discipline could be issued in this case without canceling the goal, if the DOGSO foul rose to the level of serious foul play or violent conduct, then the physical nature of that foul could still be reviewed on its own.
A red card for serious foul play or violent conduct could still be issued after Video Review, and the goal scored would still stand because these types of physical challenges are viewed without an APP. It would be considered in the same way as if the referee was applying the advantage clause and then coming back to punish the infraction at the next stoppage of play.
It is also worth noting that if, in this instance, Seattle Sounders had scored and not Minnesota United, the VAR would have had the option to recommend a review to disallow the goal and award a penalty kick to Minnesota United – and issue a red card for DOGSO to the Seattle player. The Video Review for such an incident can be recommended at any time until the game re-starts from a subsequent stoppage, even if that stoppage involves a goal at the other end of the field of play.
In circumstances like this, the best practice PRO would wish to see observed would be for the VAR to recommend the review for the penalty kick at a point where the ball is in a neutral area of the field and before the potential of a promising attack has started.