Soccer players, experts and fans trashed VAR review following the United States women's national team's controversial 2-1 loss to England in an international friendly at Wembley Stadium in London on Friday.
In a battle of teams that hadn't lost in more than a year, England benefited from two questionable VAR calls to hand the Americans their first defeat since falling 1-0 to Canada in the Olympic semifinals in August 2021.
England's Lauren Hemp and USA's Sophia Smith traded goals in the first half-hour of the match, but The Lionesses took the lead in the 33rd minute on a penalty-kick goal by Georgia Stanway.
The PK was given after Hailie Mace was shown a yellow card for a high kick to the face of England's Lucy Bronze in the box:
Strangely, a review of the kick wasn't called until a couple of minutes after the foul. It was also up for interpretation if a penalty was deserved, given that Bronze ducked her head:
It was also pointed out that no VAR review was called for when Team USA's Smith got hauled down in the box previously:
A seemingly more egregious call was made by VAR in the 37th minute when an apparent goal by Trinity Rodman off a beautiful feed from Megan Rapinoe was overturned due to the determination that Smith was offside:
Despite the lack of a camera angle showing that Smith was clearly offside, the goal was disallowed, and England's 2-1 lead was restored.
USWNT forward Alex Morgan, who was not part of the squad for Friday's friendly, questioned the call on Twitter:
Morgan was far from the only one to criticize the call, as many joined her in bewilderment on social media:
Alexander Abnos @AnAbnos
Let's say VAR was "right" & Smith was slightly ahead of last defender here. <br><br>Did it materially impact the play? No. <br>Did Smith gain a significant advantage? No. <br>Did it in any way resemble "goal hanging" behavior that is the reason for the offside rule? No.<br><br>Bad interpretation. <a href="https://t.co/LgndjxuHn2">pic.twitter.com/LgndjxuHn2</a>
Yet another fabulous game being ruined by the buffoons operating VAR. There is no way in a month of Sundays that was offside. Why has it been made normal to take away goals for no reason, it’s the main reason we watch football <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ENGUSA?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ENGUSA</a>
In a cruel twist of fate, another VAR call went against the United States late in the second half after the official called a handball on England in the box and signaled for a penalty.
On that occasion, however, VAR got it right, as the ball never touched the hand or arm of an English defender, meaning there would be no PK.
England hung on to the 2-1 lead for the remainder of the match, scoring its biggest victory since defeating Germany in the Euro 2022 final in July.
The Lionesses are unbeaten since an April 2021 friendly loss to Canada, and they are perhaps establishing themselves as the team to beat in next year's World Cup despite the controversial nature of Friday's win.