Controversial handball and armpit hair’s breadth offside decisions are divisive enough, but what hope have we got when different governing bodies cannot agree when a 6ft 3in, 12 stone goalkeeper such as Adrian is on his line.
SO WHAT IS THE RULE?
Goalkeepers used to have to stand with both feet on the line.
But on June 1, the Law was changed to: “The goalkeeper must have one of his/her feet partly on the goal-line (or above it if jumping) when the kick is taken. They cannot stand behind or in front of the line.”
IS VAR USED TO CHECK THIS?
Depends who is using it. FIFA decided to use the technology to implement a zero-tolerance approach during the Women’s World Cup. The penalties were promptly disallowed and the offending goalkeepers booked according to the Laws.
This led to an embarrassing partial climb-down when encroachment during a shoot-out only ceased to be a bookable offence because there was a fear that goalkeepers might not make it through all five penalties without getting sent off.
The furore was such that the Premier League promptly announced that they would not be using the available technology to judge encroachment but would leave it to the on-field officials to decide.
SO WAS VAR USED IN THE SUPER CUP SHOOT OUT?
UEFA have conjured the biggest nonsense of all. Their chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti said only on Tuesday that VAR would operate on encroachment issues but “only in cases of a blatant and clear violation of the rule”.
But what marks the start of what is “blatant and clear violation”? Adrian certainly looks a “blatant and clear” way off his line.
Instead of inventing this random criteria, why not just use the 4 in white line painted on the pitch between the goalposts?
SHOULD WE NOT JUST DITCH VAR THEN?
In this instance, yes. When Adrian made his save, music blared, players ran to the corner, Chelsea staff joined them in celebration and UEFA volunteers assembled the presentation platform.
How would it be if 90 seconds later the referee tried to get them all back in their places so Abraham could take his kick again.
The rule should be toughened up because it is cheating. Athletes can be false-started out of their Olympic dreams by a fraction of a second. No balls in cricket are judged to the millimetres. So goalkeepers can learn to live with it too.
The decision, though, needs to be made instantly by the officials on the pitch.
Then one day, when technology is in place to give a precise verdict immediately, football should not be afraid to use it.
At the moment, though, they are still lacking the tools to get decisions right while still allowing the game to breathe.