Sweden’s Kosovare Asllani criticised the implementation of VAR at the European Championship before her side’s semi-final against England. Sweden have had five goals ruled out by the technology in four games.
“Using 50% fewer cameras in our tournament than the men’s game, that is a catastrophe really,” Asllani said. “The decisions can’t be made with the same precision. It’s not just for us, for other teams too. There are situations where I think you should have more cameras, that can be really decisive.”
The Sweden manager, Peter Gerhardsson, joined Asllani in her criticism, with memories of Rebecka Blomqvist’s effort against Switzerland and Stina Blackstenius’s goal in their quarter-final defeat of Belgium both stirring up frustration. Blackstenius was deemed to be offside but the Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson pointed out that the line was drawn incorrectly.
“That line is completely wrong,” Eriksson told the Swedish newspaper Expressen. “You should draw the line at the penultimate player’s most defensive point but, if the ball is in front of that player, then it is the ball’s most offensive point that counts. But in this case the video referee has drawn the line from the ball’s most defensive point, alternatively from the penultimate player’s forehead. But in any case both are wrong.”
Gerhardssson said: “I think it’s strange. I like VAR, I think it’s fair when they have it but, if we have one game where they make a mistake because they draw the line on the wrong side and now we’ve heard they don’t have the same cameras, for me it’s not acceptable in a Euro.
“We haven’t seen it ourselves but a Swedish referee at home in a studio pointed out that they drew the line incorrectly … then you’re incompetent at your job. Talking about the cameras, there shouldn’t be a difference whether it’s women’s or men’s football.”
Uefa said: “The TV production for Uefa Women’s Euro 2022 is on a par with the standard production for the men’s Uefa Champions League. More importantly, VAR camera support at Uefa Women’s Euro 2022 is higher than for the men’s UEFA Champions League and men’s Euro Euro due to the availability of additional offside and EPTS [electronic performance and tracking systems] cameras.”
Gerhardssson was also critical of the rule which allowed five substitutes but prevents all five from warming up at the same time.
“We now have five substitutions but you can only warm up three,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s space; why can’t you have five warming up? If you don’t put in a player who’s warmed up, it’s also a thing that I think is strange. Why can’t five people warm up together? They’re friends, I can promise you.”
The Sweden players are no strangers to the task of trying to upset a host nation. In 2016 they beat Brazil on penalties at the Rio Olympic Games to progress to the final, where they lost against Germany.
Are they hoping to spoil England’s party? “My favourite question,” Gerhardsson said. “I don’t think about it at all because I always think about possibilities, that’s my view of everything. If you have a possibility, then you have a feeling in your body that you can do it.”
Asllani said: “It means a lot to the whole team. We are playing a semi‑final against the host nation, we’ve done that before against Brazil in the Olympics in an arena which is three times bigger than this. It’s a special feeling to go into a stadium with the home nation’s fans. We’ll do everything we can. I don’t think you can be more excited and ready. We stick to the game plan and I think we’ll have a good chance tomorrow.”
Magda Eriksson, the Chelsea captain, said: “I have been really impressed with England so far. This will be the toughest test so far. It’s the best team we are going to face but we are so ready for this. This game is what we’ve been dreaming of – to reach the next stage we’re going to do everything we can.”