Socceroos legends Craig Foster and Mark Bosnich were stunned after the staggering admission on Sunday that a “malfunction of software” led to the only goal of the A-League grand final being allowed to stand.
Kosta Barbarouses’ ninth-minute strike gave Melbourne Victory a 1-0 win against the Newcastle Jets in the decider but it should have been disallowed after James Donachie, who headed it to the scorer, was clearly offside.
Television viewers were quick to spot the incident but the video assistant referee did not have access to the same footage due to an untimely “technical failure” that was not restored until minutes later, the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) revealed.
That meant the goal could not be overruled and Victory went on to win the match, claiming their fourth A-League title.
A-League boss Greg O’Rourke said he was “extremely disappointed” at the failure of the technology and that the game was working with technology providers HawkEye “to thoroughly understand” why it happened.
The mood ranged from shock and disbelief to anger and fury on Sunday as many Australian identities had their say.
“I feel, first and foremost, extremely sad for the game itself,” Foster said on The World Game podcast.
“I know that Jets fans and supporters are extremely incensed … I’m upset for the game itself, because it’s been a very difficult last 12 to 18 months, if not two years.
“In the end, it’s very emblematic of where the game is at right now that we should end up with FFA having to make statements about how technology crashed 30 seconds prior to one of the most important, if not the most important moment in all of the season.
“My overriding feeling is just one of sadness for the game.”
Foster said the integrity of the game was “clearly now in question”.
A replay is not a possibility despite the blunder.
Bosnich, an outspoken supporter of VAR earlier in the season despite the problems associated with the technology, said it was time to scrap the experiment.
“It’s completely deflating,” he said on Fox Sports News.
“The moment that it [technology] has really mattered … I truly think that we need to suspend it or put it in the bin until the problems are rectified.
“It’s obvious … it was an offside … this season it has been an experiment and the experiment has failed.”
Ex-Socceroo John Kosmina echoed Bosnich’s view, telling Sky News: “It’s a pity that the goal stood … let’s get it fixed up or maybe get rid of it for next season.”
It is not mandatory for leagues to use VAR and many, including the English Premier League, decided to steer clear of the technology this season. It will be used at the upcoming FIFA World Cup.
‘It’s been a bit of a disaster’
Media personality Waleed Aly said the VAR, centre of problem after problem during the season, had simply not worked.
“I am an opponent of technological intervention in sport. I think it sells a false hope of perfection it can never attain,” he said on ABC.
“It doesn’t ever remove human error and when it is used well it usually causes intolerable delays in the game, so the end product you’re chasing ends up being a mirage.
“I just don’t think it’s very good. I can’t stand the whole intervention … I think it’s been a bit of a disaster.”
Barbarouses himself said “there’s been mistakes with it all year”.
“We’ve had some decisions with the VAR go against us that shouldn’t have so we’ll take it,” he told AAP.
“It’s obviously a system error … it’s still got its faults.”
The New Zealand international, who felt his team was “deserved winners”, acknowledged the game would have played out differently if the goal was disallowed.
Bookie Sportsbet announced on Sunday it had refunded more than $130,000 in bonus bets to customers who backed a draw or Newcastle to win in what it called a “justice refund”.
‘We’re just disappointed for the fans’
Newcastle Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna said that he was “a bit surprised” when first contacted by the FFA about the malfunction.
“It was a mistake that was made … the malfunction or whatever,” he said on Fox Sports News.
“I know a few people was calling for a replay, but if you give a replay it would mean … referees make mistakes every week.
“There’d be a replay for every game that was played. I know that can’t happen.
“We’re just disappointed for the fans. That’s the main thing. We had a great turnout, great night in Newcastle.”