Croatia: No regrets but about that VAR decision ...

After one of the most exciting runs to the final in the history of the World Cup -- three overtime games, two shootouts -- Croatia fell to France, 4-2, but not before leaving everything on the field.

“We have no regrets," said Croatia captain Luka Modric, the Golden Ball winner as the tournament's best player, "because we were the better team for much of the game."

Teammate Ivan Rakitic concurred with Modric that he felt Croatia was the better team but he added that "small details" went France's way.

Croatia dominated the first half but trailed on an own goal and controversial penalty kick awarded for a handball by Ivan Perisic, the first VAR decision ever in a World Cup final.

"We played well," said Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic, "but the penalty knocked the wind out of us and after that it was very difficult. I just want to say one sentence about that penalty: You don’t give a penalty like that in a World Cup final. The French did not surprise us, we let in two soft goals coupled with an own goal and a penalty. What we had in terms of luck in this tournament, we lacked today. When you concede four goals you cannot expect to win the game.”

Davor Suker, who scored for Croatia when it lost to France, 2-1, in the 1998 semifinals, was more diplomatic.

"Looking at the score now after the game, I think that it’s justice," said Suker, who is now the Croatia federation president. "We need to say congrats to the French players, coach. I think the best team won today.”
7 comments about "Croatia: No regrets but about that VAR decision ...".
  1. R2 Dad, July 16, 2018 at 1:59 a.m.

    "You don’t give a penalty like that in a World Cup final. "
    Hilarious. Let me translate:
    "You're not supposed to give a penalty like that in a World Cup final. I've coached my team to the edge of the LOTG and, despite the very obvious hand-to-ball movement we thought we would get away with, and a bajillion cameras supporting VAR that we knew about before-hand, we were unable to con the referee as in the past and we are butthurt."

  2. frank schoon replied, July 16, 2018 at 11:08 a.m.

    R2,right on!

  3. Bill Riviere, July 16, 2018 at 8:47 a.m.

    R2, you are so right on with your comment.  There was nothing "controversial" about that act and the PK rightfully awarded.  The act fit the definition of deliberate handling to a T.  The referee was not in a position to see it; the AR should have been but was screened?  I don't know if he flagged it.

    The ref was on the far side of the area near the top as he is trained to be, keeping all the play between himself and his AR.  However, I don't take up that position on corners as I have found that I miss too much watching the backs of players and I can't see what arms and eyes are doing.  Best to take up position facing the defenders and attackers.  Had he been there, he might well have seen the handling and not had to rely on VAR to save his butt.  Then it would have been a lot less controversial.

    I also thought that the referees throughout the Cup allowed way too much complaining and dissent from players, often being totally surrounded by angry, pleading players.  A few yellow cards would have kept them away--except the captains, who are allowed to speak to the referee.

  4. Kent James replied, July 16, 2018 at 4:11 p.m.

    Actually, the idea that the captains have a special right to talk to the referees is incorrect.  They have no more right to speak to the refs than any other player.  Identifying the captains is so that if the referee needs to communicate to the team, he can talk to the captain and have the captain pass the word.

  5. Kent James, July 16, 2018 at 4:16 p.m.

    Though I had a slight preference for Croatia (being the underdog, and France already having a WC) I am fine with the referee calling the penalty (and using VAR to do so).  On the other hand, I do not think that the Croatian player actually intended to hit the ball; he was jumping and both hands went up together and both hands came down together (when his arm struck the ball and I'm not even sure he could see the ball because he was behind the French player), so in a really just world, his hands would have been in a natural position.  In our real world, his hand was moving towards the ball and struck it, so most referees will call that a PK (and most players will accept it).  While the Croatians played well, the French are deserving champions.

  6. Bill Riviere, July 17, 2018 at 7:43 a.m.

    Kent, I concur with you about the captains' bands by "procedure", but a referee that ignores a captain asking a question--at least the first time on a play--likely won't manage the game very well.. and in common sense practice, giving the players a spokesperson, the captain, allows the referee to disperse the non-captains more easily.

  7. Kent James replied, July 17, 2018 at 9:09 a.m.

    I agree, but I also think that the referee should answer any player who speaks to him respectfully.

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