John Obi Mikel hits out at VAR
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last twenty-four hours, you’ll be fully aware of the fact that the Super Eagles’ time at the World Cup in Russia is now officially over. They were defeated 2-1 by Argentina last night in an absolute heartbreaker of a game, ensuring that they would not be progressing into the knockout stages of the tournament. Some will say that they didn’t deserve to make it there in the first place, whereas others will point to the fact that they showed incredible endurance and heart to bounce back from their defeat against Croatia with two solid performances against Iceland and the South Americans.
Depending on your allegiance you may have a different point of view regarding what was fair and what wasn’t throughout the course of the game, and that’s understandable. Despite what many optimists choose to believe the VAR system still isn’t perfect, and while it clears up a lot of questionable decisions, there are still some issues associated with it that leave players and media members alike wondering why it was introduced in the first place. One such man who has been venting his frustrations in the wake of Nigeria’s exit is captain John Obi Mikel, who didn’t have the best of things to say about VAR.
In terms of the context, Mikel was annoyed because Marcos Rojo headed the ball onto his own arm late in the game – and yet despite an official review, no penalty was given. The referee waved away the claims for a spot-kick before VAR forced an official review, which still wasn’t enough to change his mind. Interestingly enough, Rojo would go on to score the winning goal himself in the dying minutes of the game. According to Mikel, he questioned the referee regarding why he didn’t actually give the penalty following the review, and the response was that he simply didn’t know. Mikel still maintained some level of composure despite his obvious disappointment at the situation, claiming that he felt it was a clear penalty. He compared the incident to the Portugal game against Iran and stated that this was much more severe in the grand scheme of what it means to win a penalty, describing it as an obvious handball. For now, and over the course of the next few weeks and months, Nigerians will continue to debate whether or not they were hard done by.