The Group E in the 2022 FIFA World Cup turned out to be the “Group of Death”, with Japan beating both Germany and Spain to qualify for the Round of 16 as group winners. While Spain progressed as runners-up due to a better goal difference, 2014 champions Germany were knocked out. But, Japan’s 2-1 win over Spain was not devoid of controversy. Their second goal has triggered a storm on social media, with many suggesting that VAR was wrong in allowing the goal, especially since it led to the Germans’ elimination.
It was Japan’s Ao Tanaka who scored in the 51st minute to give the Asian side the lead. The goal wasn’t given right away as the officials checked whether the ball went past the touchline. After a lengthy review, the officials gave the decision in favor of Japan, putting them 2–1 up.
A VAR check was done and it suggested that the entire ball had not crossed the touchline. But, a number of images from the match have surfaced on social media, suggesting that the entire ball had gone over the touchline, hence triggering a controversy.
Why did VAR rule the decision in Japan’s favour?
It has to be understood that even though the ball might have been placed on the ground beyond the touchline, it’s tangent was inside the permissible limit. Hence, a part of the ball was in-line with the touchline, prompting the officials to call it a legitimate goal.
FIFA claimed that the “curvature of the ball” remained in, since the ball was not out of play at that moment.
For everyone saying the ball was out for the Japan goal pic.twitter.com/cNgSg8mIdI
—(For WC) (@JamieBVB30) December 1, 2022
According to the IFAB, who set the laws of the game, the ball is out when “it has wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground or in the air”.
The goal turned out to be the one that resulted in Germany’s elimination from the tournament. Despite securing a 4–2 win against Costa Rica in a topsy-turvy match, Germany could not progress to the Round of 16. Japan, on the other hand, booked their spot in the knockouts as winners of Group E.
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