Uefa appointed the same Referee ( Pol van Boekel ) as the in-charge of the VAR room for the game against inter Milan, who previously led the VAR panel and denied a clear penalty to Barcelona in the match against Bayern Munich just a few weeks ago. Once again he denied Barcelona another clear penalty and even disallowed a goal that many believed legal. Is it a mere coincidence or there is some shady agenda behind those controversial decisions?
The officials have come under massive scrutiny following the recent Champions League group stage game between Barcelona and Inter Milan. So much so, that even legal action by the Catalan club is being reported. The VAR panel, led by Pol van Boekel (Dutch) didn’t play adequate angles nor call the referee to see the replay on the monitor to review the potential penalty appeal from Dumfrie’s handball.
Ironically Pol van Boekel is the same VAR official who was the in-charge of Barcelona’s game against Bayern Munich just a few weeks ago, where just like tonight he failed to award Barca a clear penalty from the foul by Alphonso Davies on Ousmane Dembele, where he clipped him inside the box.
This begs certain questions. Were this a one-time incident, one could certainly consider it a mistake and move past thinking about it. However, since this has occurred in two straight games, it genuinely does bring to mind some skepticism. Is this an agenda against the Catalan club? Could be a personal one by the referee or simply Uefa finding ways to punish the La Blaugrana for their participation in the European Super League (ESL)?
It is no secret that Uefa holds a certain distaste towards the project of the Super League, and consequently holds animosity towards the three founding clubs: Juventus, Real Madrid, and Fc Barcelona. The possibilities of such an occurrence having happened on the basis of a negative agenda are very much there. Regardless, there must be a definite investigation into these games and the very questionable officiating.
On a panel by CBS SPORTS consisting of Thierry Henry, Micah Richards, and Jamie Carragher, they were able to converse with Christina Unkel. Unkel is a high-profile official within U.S. professional football. She has earned her FIFA badge and has officiated in international games as well.
All three panelists seemed to agree in unison that Dumfries handled the ball and a penalty should have been awarded to Fc Barcelona, to which Unkel herself agrees, however, she backed the referee for disallowing Pedri’s earlier goal, as in her point of view she believed that the handball by Ansu Fati could be termed as “deliberate” rather than as “accidental”.
This sparked some debate amongst the pundits who believe that the ball was pushed into Fati’s hand by the Inter goalkeeper, whereas Unkel believes that intent becomes irrelevant given the position of Fati’s hand being out of his silhouette.
That is not to say that only those outside the club itself are to blame. Xavi’s tactical approach was hazardous yesterday. Failing to acknowledge his mistake in playing Raphinha in the wrong position for almost 50 minutes, and playing Marcos Alonso in Balde’s stead were all signs of a very dysfunctional game plan.
He must re-evaluate and solidify his team and its approach as soon as possible, as failure to do so could be pivotal to Barca not reaching its massive potential this season with the squad at the manager’s disposal.