Was Japan’s Controversial Goal vs Spain Legitimate? FIFA Answers

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Japan stunned Spain 2-1 in their Group E match of the FIFA World Cup, to storm into the Round of 16 stage as the table-toppers. Despite losing the match, Spain still managed to qualify for the knockouts due to a better goal difference. In the process, however, the 2014 champions Germany were knocked out. However, Japan’s encounter with Spain had a controversial moment that triggered a storm on social media. Ao Tanaka’s goal, which gave Japan a lead in the 51st minute, wasn’t given right away as the officials checked whether the ball went past the touchline. After a VAR check, the decision was given in the favor of Japan. But, many images from different angles surfaced on social media, which suggested that the VAR decision was wrong.

Two days after the controversial game, FIFA finally released a statement regarding the incident and wrote, “Japan’s second goal in their 2-1 win over Spain was checked by VAR to determine if the ball had gone out of play. The video match officials used the goal line camera images to check if the ball was still partially on the line or not.”

“Other cameras may offer misleading images but on the evidence available, the whole of the ball was not out of play,” tweeted FIFA.

Earlier, FIFA had claimed that the “curvature of the ball” remained in, hence the ball was not out of play at that moment.

According to IFAB, who set the laws of the game, the ball is out when “it has wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground or in the air”.

The goal turned out to be the one that resulted in Germany’s elimination from the tournament. Despite securing a 4-2 win against Costa Rica in a topsy-turvy match, Germany couldn’t progress to the Round of 16. Japan, on the other hand, book their spot in the knockouts as winners of Group E.

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