You’ll never believe why FIFA allowed Japan’s controversial winning goal against Spain

Kaoru Mitoma assists Japan's winning goal Credit: Alamy
Kaoru Mitoma assists Japan's winning goal Credit: Alamy

It mainly revolves around the fact it was a perfectly legitimate Japan goal, even if it does predictably have one weary England supporter panicking.


Why fronts
Mediawatch understands completely why these headlines exist…

‘Why controversial Japan goal stood despite no part of the ball touching line vs Spain’ – Daily Mirror website.

‘Why Japan’s winning goal against Spain at World Cup was allowed to stand by VAR’ – London Evening Standard.

‘Why Var allowed Japan’s goal to stand, what the rules say and why it mattered’ – Daily Telegraph.

‘Why Japan goal that knocked Germany out of the World Cup was given by VAR’ – Liverpool Echo.

‘Why Japan’s second goal against Spain was allowed to stand’ – The Guardian.

‘Explained: Why Japan’s second goal against Spain was controversially allowed by VAR despite ball appearing to be out of play’ –

‘Why Japan’s winning goal vs. Spain was awarded by the VAR after the ball appeared to go out’ – ESPN.

But when the answer is ‘because the ball was still in play’, the couple of hundred earnest explainers about curvature and the like start to feel a little redundant.

And by the way, this point still stands when it comes to quoting former officials saying the exact same thing:

‘Former Premier League referees explain why Japan’s goal that eliminated Germany stood despite ball appearing to go out of play’ – Metro.

‘Referee explains why controversial goal in Japan v Spain game stood despite ball appearing to be out of play – WalesOnline.

But it is funny to see local news outlets fall over themselves trying to mop up some of that sweet World Cup SEO nectar in between scrambling around for spurious updates to their live transfer blogs.


Mike drop
Not that the MailOnline are above it. This headline is begging to be clicked:

”It’s sheer incompetence’: There is no proof that VAR should have awarded Japan’s controversial winner that ended up sending Germany home, Sportsmail’s Mike Keegan tells WORLD CUP CONFIDENTIAL’

This despite there being proof if you have functional eyes. But Mike Keegan is not having it.

“These things were brought in to eradicate human error,” he says. “And yet it’s a system that is still run by humans, so how does that work?”

Much like it did on Thursday evening, when the technology eradicated human error by allowing a perfectly legitimate Japan goal.

“I dread to think, you know, my life as an England follower has been dominated by controversy. On my eighth birthday, Maradona punches it in. Then obviously we get Lampard with Germany.”

Some basic maths puts Keegan in his mid-40s, making his claim that a life supporting England “has been dominated by controversy” sound pretty weird when he goes on to cite literally two incidents in that time.

“Something’s gonna happen further down the line. There’s been too many incidents like this.”

“Too many incidents like” legitimate goals being allowed? Agreed. Down with that sort of thing. Sort it out, FIFA. And get Mike Keegan together with Graeme Souness; it sounds like they’d have a great time.


Killer Wales
Andy Dunn of the Daily Mirror has a different gripe with FIFA: their plans to revamp the World Cup format.

And that is fair. A 48-team World Cup sounds awful. But this is a strange way in which to make that point:

‘ONE of the mantras coming out of the Welsh camp following their disappointing exit from Qatar 2022 was that to even be here was still a fantastic achievement that should be celebrated.

‘Which, to a large extent, was true.

‘And that’s why the expansion to a 48-team tournament in 2026 is a farce, a joke.

‘Getting to the World Cup finals will no longer be an achievement of note.

‘For many, it should be a formality and for teams such as Wales, it will be nothing more than satisfactory if they make it.’

European teams had 12 qualification spots for the 2022 World Cup. That is only planned to increased to 16 for the tournament in 2026. Not sure Wales or any other teams who do not regularly reach the finals will just be ‘satisfied’ if they make it.


Journey South
Dunn also writes:

‘In any profession, the chances of someone having a pop at their manager while still under his or her command are slim and none.

‘So when England players form an orderly Qatari queue to laud Gareth Southgate, it is hardly a seismic surprise. What else are they going to say? He can make or break his international career and all that goes with it.

‘But when the microphones and cameras are off, these England footballers say exactly the same thing as they do in public. Playing for Southgate, training under Southgate, being in camp with Southgate, is an absolute pleasure. Hard work, thorough, but a pleasure.’

They almost certainly mean it. Southgate seems like a delight to work with and has been very successful with England. But yeah, the players are hardly going to say any different of the manager who currently controls their international careers.

But Dunn has a response for that:

‘And let me tell you, that has not been the case with previous England managers.

‘In fact, remember 2002, after the World Cup quarter-final defeat to Brazil?

‘”We wanted Churchill and we got Iain Duncan-Smith,” said one player, apparently, of Sven Goran Eriksson. The player? Gareth Southgate.’

Indeed. After Sven-Goran Eriksson had left his post as England manager, meaning Southgate – speaking anonymously at the time – had nothing to lose. So absolutely not the same situation whatsoever.


My Ibou
‘Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konate breaks FIFA World Cup record to give France new problem’ – Daily Mirror website.

Making the most tackles in a game so far in this specific tournament is not really ‘breaking a FIFA World Cup record’.

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