Japan's Kaoru Mitoma was ruled by VAR to have kept the ball in play for their winner


‘You’re left thinking that something untoward is going on’: Graeme Souness and Gary Neville slam FIFA over lack of camera angles provided for viewers at World Cup after Japan’s controversial goal against Spain was allowed to stand

  • Japan scored a controversial goal against Spain in their final group game 
  • The ball appeared to go out of play before Ao Tanaka converted for Japan 
  • The result meant that Japan and Spain qualified but Germany were eliminated
  • Pundits Graeme Souness and Gary Neville did not hold back their criticisms
  • Peter Walton described the decision as ‘peculiar’ in his post-match analysis 
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

ITV’s pundits – including Graeme Souness and Gary Neville – were left in disbelief after Japan’s controversial winner against Spain was allowed to stand and suggested that something ‘untoward’ was happening.

In the final match of Group E, Japan took the lead against Spain when Ao Tanaka poked home from inside the six-yard box however replays showed that the ball appeared to go out of play in the build-up.

After a length consultation by VAR, the goal was allowed to stand which has drawn confused reactions and questions over the camera angles covering the incident. 

Japan's Kaoru Mitoma was controversially ruled by VAR to have kept the ball in play for their winner against Spain

Japan’s Kaoru Mitoma was ruled by VAR to have kept the ball in play for their winner

Graeme Souness hinted that 'something untoward was going on' after the decision

Graeme Souness hinted that ‘something untoward was going on’ after the decision

Gary Neville agreed and said he's felt 'uncomfortable' with VAR since the opening day

Gary Neville agreed and said he’s felt ‘uncomfortable’ with VAR since the opening day

Speaking after the match, Neville said: ‘I don’t believe in conspiracies, I just think that at this tournament they’ve not demonstrated it [well].

‘From that first offside goal disallowed – Ecuador vs Qatar, game one – I’ve struggled with it and found it uncomfortable that we’re not being given the correct angles. It doesn’t feel right. 

‘We’ve got 100s of cameras in these stadiums where we can’t miss anything and yet we’ve gone backwards in terms of demonstrating decisions. Someone in that VAR has seen something that is absolutely categoric that they should overturn it.’

In the opening match of the competition, Ecuador had a goal ruled out by VAR against the host nation for offside –  which left fans, pundits and players in disbelief.

Enner Valencia thought he'd opened the scoring for Ecuador against Qatar on the opening day

Enner Valencia thought he’d opened the scoring for Ecuador against Qatar on the opening day

But VAR overturned the decision due to offside - leaving fans, pundits and players in disbelief

But VAR overturned the decision due to offside – leaving fans, pundits and players in disbelief

The decision in the Japan and Spain encounter appeared even more controversial, with the majority of camera angles showing the ball out of play. 

Neville’s punditry partner, Souness, said: ‘There’s 80 million Germans going mad right now, waiting for a picture that shows that the ball didn’t go out of play.’

‘Every TV studio, every pundit, everybody who’s got an interest will want to see the picture. Why are FIFA not showing us something which is so controversial and has cost Germany so dearly? Why are they not showing it to us?’

‘We’re close to an hour since the incident. The longer they don’t produce a picture that shows conclusively that it went out of play, you’re left thinking that there’s something untoward going on.’

Brighton's Kaoru Mitoma got the assist even though it looked like he overran his dribble

Brighton’s Kaoru Mitoma got the assist even though it looked like he overran his dribble

The result meant that Germany were knocked out of the World Cup group stages again

The result meant that Germany were knocked out of the World Cup group stages again

Referee analyst Peter Walton was brought in to discuss the matter and even admitted that he found it ‘peculiar’ that there were a lack of angles covering the incident. 

Walton said: ‘Well that’s very peculiar because if you remember at the start of this tournament, for offside decisions, FIFA said that they would be shown automatically to the stadium so the people watching could see them. 

‘That technology is still available for this goal line decision here, so I’m at a miss as to why they haven’t shown it yet. 

‘Clearly they’ve got their reasons but only time will tell. But I do think the evidence will appear sooner or later, whether or not that ball hasn’t completely crossed that line.’ 

Referee analyst Peter Walton agreed that it was a 'peculiar' decision to award the goal

Referee analyst Peter Walton agreed that it was a ‘peculiar’ decision to award the goal

Referee analyst Peter Walton says 'only time will tell' why VAR chose to make the decision

Referee analyst Peter Walton says ‘only time will tell’ why VAR chose to make the decision

But the former Premier League official did concede that he believes the decision was correct – even though replays appeared to show the ball out of play – due to the ‘curvature of the ball’.  

He said: ‘I’m seeing the same angles as you are and you are right about the law. There’s a misconception about the law that just because the part of the ball that touches the ground is over the line, the ball is out. Well, it clearly isn’t because it’s about the curvature of the ball.’

‘We see this a lot in corner kick taking where the ball looks over the line but isn’t over the line. In this situation here, what the VAR is looking for is the evidence to suggest to the referee that the ball has clearly left the field of play but if we look at the evidence that we have in front of us he doesn’t have that in front of him. 

‘What I would suggest is that the goal-line technology uses that camera to see whether the ball is in or out. Those same cameras are being used for VAR, to discover whether or not the ball has left the field of play, so there are angles that will show that.’

Substitute Ritsu Doan (pictured) scored the opener for his side before Tanaka's winner

Substitute Ritsu Doan (pictured) scored the opener for his side before Tanaka’s winner

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