The handball penalty that was awarded to France in the first half.
The handball penalty that was awarded to France in the first half.

‘Joke’: VAR controversy mars final

A CONTROVERSIAL penalty awarded by video replay to France in the World Cup has been labelled a "joke".

The score was level at 1-all when France was awarded the penalty in the 38th minute after referee Nestor Pitana watched the replay of a handball.

Croatia star Ivan Perisic handled the ball after a corner by France's Antoine Greizmann after he had earlier scored a stunning goal to level the scores.

Greizmann calmly converted from the spot to give France a 2-1 lead.

Former Socceroo David Zdrilic said on SBS conceded the right call was made.

"Look, you know, you have to say, it is the final moment where he puts his hand. He's surprised because the flick doesn't come," Zdrilic said halftime.

SBS commentator Martin Tyler said: "You would say it is the kind of penalty decision that would not have been given before VAR and whether that's what we have to get used to now, well, maybe many of you think that's the right way."

But other former players and commentators were not convinced it was the right call.

Football journalist Daniel Storey said the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee meant that the handball rule needed to be changed.

"I think I've said this 100 times to increasingly bored friends during this World Cup, but watching football in slow-motion distorts everything," Storey tweeted.

"VAR has altered the rules on handballs without the wording being changed."

The FIFA rule states a handball is a "deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with his hand or arm".

The movement of the hand towards the ball is taken into account, but critics of the penalty awarded to France say it was impossible for Perisic to react any quicker.



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