VAR penalty shows defenders need to adapt, says Spurs defender Vertonghen

Referee Bjorn Kuipers awards a penalty to Manchester City after reviewing an incident with VAR. (Action Images via Reuters)
Updated 10 April 2019

VAR penalty shows defenders need to adapt, says Spurs defender Vertonghen

  • City were awarded a penalty in the 13th minute of Tuesday’s first-leg tie by VAR
  • Vertonghen has urged the decision-makers to think like footballers

LONDON: Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen says defenders will have to adapt to VAR after the latest controversial incident in the Champions League quarterfinal win against Manchester City.
City were awarded a penalty in the 13th minute of Tuesday’s first-leg tie at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium when Raheem Sterling’s shot hit Danny Rose’s arm.
None of the players appealed at the time and it was only after the VAR official advised Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers to review the incident that the spot-kick was given, in line with UEFA’s directive on the handball law.
Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris ensured that it was not a potentially decisive moment, saving Sergio Aguero’s tame effort from 12 yards before the hosts went on to win 1-0.
Vertonghen has urged the decision-makers to think like footballers, saying he feared there could be a huge increase in penalties awarded once VAR is up and running in the Premier League next season.
“I think we have to change the way we defend,” he said. “We are not pulling people down but even a small touch, if you watch it 20 times in slow motion, it will give so many more penalties.
“I think you’ll see in the stats in the next few years in the Premier League, you will see at least 20, 30, 40 more penalties.
“I think we all need to adapt — the players, the referees and how they think as a player sometimes.
“Sometimes you can’t do anything else than put your body on the line and I don’t even know, but it’s important that referees think as a football player sometimes.
“You can’t even touch anyone. Before it was quite physical, but in a fair way. But now you are too scared to get close to someone.”
Rose said the ball hit his arm but said he did not believe his arm was “outside his body.”
“I’m not sure I can complain,” he added. “I haven’t seen it again. It did hit my arm but it certainly wasn’t intentional.”
“I’m just grateful Hugo saved it and we kept a massive clean sheet, scored at the end and have something to look forward to next week.
“It’s unnatural to try to defend a shot with your arms behind your back and I’m not sure that’s something the manager would be promoting. But there’s not much I can do, I have to learn from it.”

Liverpool cruised to a 2-0 victory in their quarterfinal clash against FC Porto on Tuesday. (AFP)

Meanwhile, elsewhere on Tuesday, Liverpool built a 2-0 lead over Porto heading into the second leg of the quarterfinals thanks to first-half goals by Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino at Anfield on Tuesday.
“Positive, good, we won 2-0 ... we controlled the game, had direction of the game,” said Klopp, whose only criticism of his players was for the number of free kicks they gave away in dangerous areas. “We knew we had to play the second game and we cannot decide the tie tonight.”

Tiger Woods cautious about return ahead of Memorial

Updated 15 July 2020

Tiger Woods cautious about return ahead of Memorial

  • PGA Tour officials confirmed that the remainder of the 2019-2020 season would take place without fans

WASHINGTON: Tiger Woods admitted Tuesday that concern over the coronavirus delayed his return to the PGA Tour as he prepares to play his first event since February at this week's Memorial Tournament in Ohio.

The former world No. 1 has not played since appearing in the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles in February but will tee off at Muirfield on Thursday chasing a sixth victory in the Jack Nicklaus-hosted event.

The 44-year-old 15-time major winner said Tuesday he had contemplated returning to the tour earlier but had wanted to see how the first few events of the post-coronavirus shutdown fared before coming back.

"I just felt it was better to stay at home and be safe," Woods said Tuesday.

"I'm used to playing with lots of people around me or having lots of people have a direct line to me, and that puts not only myself in danger but my friends and family, and just been at home practicing and social distancing and being away from a lot of people.

"Coming back and playing the tour, in my case over the 20-some-odd years I've been out here, that's really hard to say, that I'm used to having so many people around me or even touch me, going from green to tee.

"That's something that I looked at and said, well, I'm really not quite comfortable with that, that whole idea."

Memorial organizers had initially planned to allow fans on the course at this week's tournament, but abandoned that idea as COVID-19 cases across the US began to skyrocket.

On Monday, PGA Tour officials confirmed that the remainder of the 2019-2020 season would take place without fans.

It means Woods will tee off on Thursday alongside world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka without the customary horde of spectators that usually follows him around a course.

"It's going to be different, there's no doubt about it," Woods said.

"For most of my career, pretty much almost every competitive playing round that I've been involved in, I've had people around me, spectators yelling, a lot of movement inside the gallery with camera crews and media."

Woods, who is making only his fourth tournament appearance of the season this week, said he has improved his health during the long layoff.

A stiff back hampered his performance at the Genesis in February, but Woods said he had not been troubled since.

"I feel so much better than I did then," Woods said.

"I've been able to train and concentrate on getting back up to speed and back up to tournament speed.

During Woods' layoff, the US was convulsed by nationwide protests against racism following the death of unarmed African-American man George Floyd during his arrest by police in Minneapolis on May 25.

Woods said he applauded efforts of Black Lives Matter activists to bring about change.

"I think change is fantastic as long as we make changes without hurting the innocent, and unfortunately that has happened. 

Hopefully it doesn't happen in the future, but a movement and change is fantastic," Woods said.

"That's how society develops. That's how we grow. That's how we move forward. That's how we have fairness."