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17th Nov 2020

WATCH: New Uefa footage shows VAR conversations ahead of crucial penalty calls

Simon Lloyd

“Take a seat. This is pressure!”

Uefa have released new footage of the conversations which took place between referees and VAR officials ahead of high-profile Champions League penalty decisions.

Part of a new four-part docu-series called Man in the Middle, the videos show what happened in the seconds leading up to the awarding of Marcus Rashford’s last gasp match-winning penalty against Paris Saint-Germain in 2019, as well as Mo Salah’s spot-kick against Tottenham in that year’s final.

The first episode of the series, which is available to watch on now, looks specifically at the challenges posed to some of Europe’s top officials as they adapted to VAR shortly after its introduction in 2019.

Manchester United had trailed 2-0 to PSG ahead of their last-16 second leg in the French capital, but were able to seal a famous comeback when it was ruled that Presnel Kimpembe had handled a Diogo Dalot shot in the closing minutes. Rashford famously stepped up to complete a 3-1 win on the night, sending United through to the quarter-finals.

Salah’s penalty was also given for handball in the opening seconds of Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Tottenham in the final. Sadio Mane’s attempted cross was adjudged to have been handled by Moussa Sissoko, presenting Salah with the chance to give Jurgen Klopp’s men an early lead.

Uefa’s chief of refereeing, Roberto Rosetti, says the series will give supporters an alternative perspective on match officials and the job they carry out, often making key decisions in high-pressure scenarios.

“It’s important to communicate with people, to show what the referees are doing,” he says. “They are human beings, they are trying to do their best, they are really professional, they are really serious and honest people.”