Barça want VAR in UWCL after ref controversies

Barça want VAR in UWCL after ref controversies

Barcelona players have called for VAR to be used in the UEFA Women’s Champions League group stage after refereeing controversy marked Chelsea‘s draw at Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Madrid earned a 2-2 draw courtesy of a late penalty given following a foul outside of the box, with Chelsea then denied an even later winner for a dubious offside call.

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Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said her side were “robbed” of victory by “embarrassing” refereeing, with VAR not used in the competition until the knockout stages.

“I think it has to be used in the Champions League from minute one when the group stage starts,” Barça winger Caroline Graham Hansen said Thursday.

“Every year we are doing things to improve [the game], but it’s clear that it should be utilised in the group phase as well as the knockouts.

“Like [this week], the games are intense, there are a lot of decisive situations and, at the end of the day, I think everyone just wants games to end with the result as it should end. If we can have help, that helps.”

Graham Hansen’s Barça teammate Salma Paralluelo, who finished third in the Ballon d’Or this month, also demanded the implementation of technology.

“At the end of the day, VAR is a tool that makes things as fair as possible on the pitch because of the support it provides,” Paralluelo said.

“Not having it can lead to wrong decisions. We need it both in the league and in the Champions League [group phase]. I think it is super necessary.”

Barça’s players have been leading the campaign for the introduction of VAR this season. Defender Mapi León said “we need VAR” in October after taking an elbow to the face which went unpunished in the Liga F game against Atletico Madrid.

Wednesday’s controversial decisions took the focus away from a good result for Madrid against the English champions as they continue to take huge strides forward both domestically and in Europe.

They are competing in the Champions League group stage for the third season in a row having only absorbed the Madrid-based CD Tacon in 2019.

In Liga F, they are also improving. They finished second last year, 10 points behind Barça, and are three points behind the Blaugrana going into Sunday’s El Clásico at the Olympic Stadium in Montjuic after winning seven of their opening eight games.

“Madrid are [cutting] the distance,” Graham Hansen added. “They are working hard, signing better players every year and that brings them closer [to Barça].

“But we are also upping our level every year. We know Sunday will be a huge battle and we can’t wait to get out there. It’s El Clásico and that means a lot for us. Playing against Madrid is always special.

“It’s important for women’s football to have a strong Madrid. [El Clásico] is a big game, a game the whole world knows and it’s important that it reflects the level in the women’s game.

“It has to be the game of the year for the women, as it is for the men. Therefore, it’s really good that they are also doing things well.”

Reigning European and Spanish champions Barça have won all eight of their league games so far this season and opened their defence of the Champions League with a 5-0 win over Benfica on Tuesday.

However, they expect a tough test against Madrid when they play their first game at the 50,000-capacity Olympic Stadium this season, Barça’s temporary home while the Spotify Camp Nou is renovated.

“Madrid’s evolution has been really good, which is good for women’s football,” Paralluelo said. “Every team is growing and, personally, I am happy to see all the advances.

“Sunday will be a good game, well-disputed, and we will see what happens. It’s a nice match to play in, it’s special.”

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