African soccer fans are using the example of a penalty that was denied Nigeria in Tuesday’s loss to Argentina to buttress arguments that referees are using video technology to victimise ‘smaller’ teams.
With the Turkish match arbiter in charge of Nigeria’s last group match against Argentina, Cuneyt Cakir opting to snub evidence of a handball by Marcos Rojo, which was confirmed by Video Assistant Referee (VAR), a cross-section of African fans are crying blue murder.
Aside Nigeria’s case, the debate goes back to earlier matches involving other African teams, as Moroccan football fans have addressed a change.org petition to FIFA to condemn the referee’s choice not to use VAR in their team’s game against Portugal on Wednesday.
Moroccan footballers, fans and the coach were disappointed after referees did not give Morocco penalty kicks twice.
Moroccan winger, Nordin Amrabat was the first to shout for a penalty in the 26th minute of the game after Portuguese footballer Raphael Guerreiro pushed him in the penalty zone. Amrabat and other Moroccan footballers asked the referee to check the VAR, but his request was not obliged.
Morocco’s head coach, Hervé Renard also expressed anger after Portuguese defender, Pepe crushed into Moroccan footballer Khalid Boutaib. The mistake, however, went unnoticed by the referees, and VAR was not consulted.
The neglect of VAR received wide backlash from fans as it was used in several other matches, including yesterday’s Australia-Denmark game, while the Moroccan petition has generated more than 43,000 signatures.
The petitioners say that referees during the game were unfair toward Morocco, as the match officials did not .allow the Atlas Lions benefit of video technology to prove a point.
“FIFA use VAR to help big teams win, and is being racist toward Morocco which is an African country. Anyone who watched the match will realize how much unfair it was: Morocco should have had 2 PK [penalty kicks] but no one bothered to check the VAR,” the petition read in part.
A fan also took to Twitter via @hanane49647983 to state: “We call for a review of Morocco’s match against Portugal, due to the referendum mistakes that deprived the Moroccan team of two penalties
Another Twitter user stated: “We call for a review of Morocco’s match against Portugal, due to the referendum mistakes that deprived the Moroccan team of two penalties.”
Chelsea legend, Didier Drogba stated emphatically that the Turkish ref favored Argentina unjustly with the decision not to award the second penalty to Nigeria.
”That’s a penalty because he did not read the trajectory of the ball well; nobody touched him, that’s a bad decision. This is a defender’s mistake, he did not read the ball well.
”It is a difficult responsibility to give this penalty as well because it will take Argentina out of the competition,” Drogba submitted.