Irish FA to push for video technology after penalty controversy


Northern Ireland were stunned by referee Ovidiu Hategan’s 58th-minute penalty decision

The Irish FA is set to back the implementation of video assistant referees in the wake of Northern Ireland’s failure to reach the World Cup after a controversial penalty.

Michael O’Neill’s side lost their play-off with Switzerland 1-0 on aggregate after a dubious first-leg penalty.

The IFA is one of the five members of the law-making body, the International Football Association Board.

It gives Irish chiefs a key say over a possible roll-out of video assistants.

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill said he has never seen a worse decision in a game he has been involved in

The Press Association reported on Monday that the IFA intends to write to football’s world governing body Fifa to express dismay at the circumstances that have denied Northern Ireland a World Cup berth.

Referee Ovidiu Hategan adjudged Corry Evans had handled Xherdan Shaqiri’s shot at Windsor Park in last Thursday’s first leg, even though replays showed it appeared to hit the back of his shoulder.

The IFA could now advocate a video assistant referee (VAR) being available for international fixtures where the stakes are high, having witnessed Northern Ireland miss out on a first World Cup in 32 years.

Just 24 hours after Switzerland’s victory in Belfast, a VAR was trialled in an official UK game for the first time when England met Germany in a friendly at Wembley.

‘Penalty decision can motivate us’ – NI boss O’Neill

Trials of VARs are under way in several countries and Fifa has been using it in some of its tournaments, including the Club World Cup and recent Under-17 World Cup.

Speaking after the first leg, boss O’Neill said: “it’s just staggering in this day and age when the stakes are so high that something like that is a game-changer”.

“It (a VAR) should be used for anything that is a defining decision, which is clearly what we saw.

“A penalty given in those circumstances, a VAR would have cleared it up and said it’s clearly not a pen.”

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