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COVID blamed for lack of VAR in World Cup qualifiers after missed goal

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Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo in disbelief after his goal wasn't given
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo in disbelief after his goal wasn't given   -   Copyright  Darko Vojinovic/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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The coronavirus pandemic has been blamed for the lack of the use of VAR in European World Cup qualifiers, after what could have been a crucial goal was missed by officials in the final seconds of Portugal’s match against Serbia.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot clearly crossed the line during added time, before being swept away by a defender.

The officials missed it, and Ronaldo ended up being booked for making his case to the linesman, before the five time Ballon d’Or winner stormed off following the final whistle.

The 2-2 draw leaves Portugal level on four points with Serbia in Group A.

This complicates the UEFA European champions’ path to qualification in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

UEFA said it intended to use VAR (Video Assistant Referee) in the World Cup qualifying campaign that began last week but decided it was too complicated to do so despite it being used in recent Champions League and Europa League knockout phase games.

VAR relies on a couple of video assistant referees receiving a live feed of multiple angles from matches and a direct connection to the referee.

“In 2019 UEFA had proposed to FIFA the implementation of VAR in the current World Cup qualifiers,” UEFA said in a statement.

"The impact of the pandemic on operational and logistical capabilities led UEFA to delay the implementation of VAR in the Europa League group phase (to 2021-22 instead of 2020-21) as well as to withdraw the proposal to implement VAR in the 2022 European qualifiers.

“VAR was also not in use in the UEFA Nations League group stage in the autumn of 2020 and has therefore to-date never been used in UEFA national team qualifying group stage matches.”

FIFA, which organises the World Cup, said it was informed by UEFA in January that VAR could not be used in qualifiers due to the “issues and restrictions” caused by the coronavirus.