SYDNEY (Reuters) - Football Federation Australia admitted on Sunday that a technical glitch meant the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was unable to view footage and rule out the goal that decided the A-League final in Newcastle.
Kosta Barbarouses scored the only goal of the match in the ninth minute on Saturday to give Melbourne Victory a 1-0 victory over the Newcastle Jets and a record fourth Australian title.
The New Zealand winger’s team mate James Donachie appeared to be in an offside position when he headed the ball back across the box from Leroy George’s free-kick but, the FFA said, a 30 second blackout meant the VAR was unable to review the play.
“The technology itself failed and the broadcast angles required were unavailable,” A-League chief Greg O’Rourke said in a statement.
“We are working with Hawkeye to thoroughly understand why it did and what can be done to prevent this happening again.
“We are extremely disappointed at this failure of the VAR technology and we understand the disappointment and frustration of the Newcastle Jets, their fans and indeed all football fans.”
The Jets finished bottom of the league last season and were looking to complete a fairytale turnaround in front of a capacity crowd of 29,410 at their own stadium.
The early goal was a major blow to that ambition and Jets manager Ernie Merrick questioned the value of the VAR system if such decisions were not reviewed.
“It looked to me like there were three players offside,” Merrick said.
“I don’t want to be a sore loser but if that goal was offside I just wonder what the point of the VAR is.”
The A-League was the first professional football league to adopt VAR last year and the technology will be used at the World Cup finals for the first time in Russia later this year.
“VAR was introduced here and in other parts of the world as a technology based solution to correct the human errors that inevitably are made from time to time when officials are making judgements in split seconds,” O’Rourke added.
“Whilst we understand that this happened only once this season, it was at a most critical time. All parties desire the technology to be failure proof and that is what we will be striving for.”
It is not the first time the VAR has been found wanting with a giant flag at a Portuguese Primeira Liga match between Aves and Boavista in February obscuring the view of the camera which would have helped the official decide on an offside.
As in the A-League final, the lack of footage meant the goal stood.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford