Ghost goal, what a lovely expression. But who coined it? It is difficult to trace back. We already had ghost goals before the war. The old football photos from the times of Zamora show us a ‘goal judge’ sitting on a small chair next to the post. They disappeared from the game because sat there, defenseless, they were easy victims of pranksters or players with gripes against them and accurate shooting. Not long ago Uefa re-created the role, but without the chair. In the Panama-Costa Rica game, though, this was not used. Neither was VAR, of course. Guatemalan referee Walter López gave the first goal to Panama despite the ball not crossing the line. Without that goal, the United States would have been going to the World Cup. Now they will not.
USA World Cup complaints, no replay
The pain in this case is due to it being very clear that the ball did not go in. But there were two players down, one on either side of the line, and Walter Lopez, impeded, thought he saw what he couldn’t have. The United States will complain. But a match is never replayed because of a refereeing error (although it can be when a decision is made against the rulebook, which then also implies ignorance). Fifa have decided to replay South Africa vs Senegal in which the referee gave a penalty for a ball that hit a knee. In this case, corruption was revealed, which is good. The referee has since been given a life ban and the match will be take place in November.
VAR given a push
In this particular case of Panama, nobody has any impression, nor is there an indication, that it is anything more than just a lapse in judgement, one of many. I can’t see the game being replayed, but this ghost goal will end up being as famous as that of Hurst in the final of ‘66. Infantino has already said that this incident will speed up the further introduction of VAR. It would have been enough here to have had only 'Hawk-eye', which automatically makes a call in such cases, those that are not opinions but objective facts. But it has all been delayed and now we get entangled in the VAR debate, which requires more steps, and more prudence, to create reliable systems and to get enough people prepared. I don’t completely trust it, but this goal-no-goal has given it a definitive push.