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Football

Controversy and drama surround Qatar's equalizer against India

In games like this where stakes are through the roof, there needs to be a discussion on how to ensure such calls aren't repeated.

Controversy and drama surround Qatars equalizer against India
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A controversial goal was awarded to Qatar who won 2-1 against India in matchday 6 of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, round two. (Photo Credit: FanCode)

By

Arjun Mylvahanan

Published: 12 Jun 2024 11:22 AM GMT

It was all going according to plan for Igor Stimac and the Indian football team. Sitting with a 1-0 lead with less than 20 minutes to go, the defense looked tight and Qatar were increasingly looking more agitated facing the resolute Indian backline.

Then, it happened.

Controversy

Minute 73. A freekick from Qatar is headed goalwards by the oncoming Qatari attacker and Gurpreet manages to save it but the ball rolls underneath him and seemingly went beyond the playing area for a corner. The Indian players stopped thinking a corner was on the cards.

The Qataris, meanwhile, played for the whistle. The ball was quickly brought back into play and Ayman tucked it into the goal and the referee, after confirming with the linesman, ruled it a goal.

While the home team celebrated, the Indian team surrounded the referee and the linesman in sheer disbelief. But to no effect, their cries and complaints fell on deaf ears as the referee said the goal stood.

It immensely impacted the Indian morale and it was no surprise that the hosts found the winning goal 13 minutes later, and the match ended 2-1, sending India out of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

The ball seems to have completely crossed the line before the Qatari attacker pulls it back in play. (Photo Credit: FanCode)

Where is the technology?

In the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a similar case happened in the match between Japan and Spain.

Japan's Kauro Mitoma seemingly let the ball cross the line before putting in the cross, which resulted in a goal. Although there were a lot of uncertainty surrounding the goal, the Video Assistant Referee, or VAR in short, after checking multiple times, awarded the goal, which was indeed the right call.

In high stakes games such as the one that was played yesterday, such calls could prove pivotal in judging the result of the match. India looked in full control until that goal and then morale took a dive and rightfully so. They felt they were hard done by and had no reprieve to fall back to.

This begs the question, where is technology when we need it the most? Why couldn't we have more cameras along the goal line to ensure we get a clear angle to see where the ball is?

Round 2 of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers were not equipped with VAR, which once again leave us with the question, if not here, then where?

AIFF President has his say

Kalyan Chaubey, the president of the All India Football Association (AIFF), also had his two cents on the issue, stating, "victory and defeat are part and parcel of the game, we have learned to accept it gracefully, although one of the two goals scored against India yesterday night left a few questions unanswered."

"We have written to the FIFA Head of Qualifiers, the AFC Head of Referees, the AFC Head of Competitions, and the Match Commissioner for the game, requesting them to look into the grave supervision error caused during the game that practically cost us a place in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers Round 3,” he added.

Technology is being used in the game to ensure the game is played more fairly and that we leave no room for controversy. While it is understandable to not have such high-end features for practice and friendly games, it should have been present in tournaments as important as the World Cup qualifiers, since at this level, the difference could be the barest of margins.

A lot of questions need to be answered and the AIFF have raised a complaint regarding the same and it is hoped that going forward, the results in such pivotal clashes is not decided by controversy but rather the talent of the 22 players fighting it out on the pitch.

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