Soccer fans were left perplexed after Real Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo escaped being expelled from a crucial World Cup fixture with Iran, after committing what is widely viewed as a red card offense.
Iran's Portuguese coach, Carlos Queiroz, leveled anger at the VAR system as well as match officials who, he says, failed to give the superstar his marching orders for the off-the-ball incident.
“You stop the game for VAR, there is an elbow. Elbow. Elbow is a red card in the rules, the rules don’t say if it’s Messi or Ronaldo. I don’t know if it was this but we have the right to know.”
Cristiano Ronaldo escaped a red card after appearing to strike Iran’s Morteza Pouraliganji, following VAR review. Paraguayan referee Enrique Cáceres, instead, issued a yellow card to the Portugal captain. Cáceres stopped the game a total of three times for reviews.
Meanwhile, Portugal’s coach, Fernando Santos, said: “I’d have to watch it again to talk about it but I think the VAR did its job and that’s what we have to accept.”
Queiroz added that for the VAR system to work efficiently, coaches and fans should be able to hear the communication between the referee and the video assistants.
“We don’t know if it was the referee or the guys upstairs [who decided]. This game belongs to the people not to a couple of guys behind the scenes. My suggestion, Mr. Infantino, they have to put up their hand and say: ‘Sorry, VAR is not working so we have to stop it,’ or the communication must be clear like rugby, when everybody knows what is going on.”
Late in the match, Portugal was on the receiving end of a controversial VAR decision which resulted in a penalty being awarded to Iran. Karim Ansarifard converted from the sport to claim a consolation point for the Iranians who crashed out of the tournament after the fixture.
“My players, they deserve a little bit more respect, the Iranian fans deserve a little bit more respect,” said Queiroz.
“There’s no room for human mistakes, human mistakes were before, we accept that. Players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes and referees make mistakes. But now you have one system that costs a fortune, high technology, five or six people inside, whatever, nobody takes responsibility.”
Ricardo Quaresma earlier opened the scoring, giving the Europeans the lead.
Portugal finished in second place in Group B after Spain pulled off a last-gasp 2-all draw with a spirited Moroccan outfit.