The FA Cup final ended in a slightly controversial manner, as Chelsea were defeated by Leicester City 1-0 in the grand finale of England’s top cup competition at the Wembley stadium on Saturday.
The game featured the return of fans, as Leicester and Chelsea both had 6,000 supporters in the stands, while there were a number of neutrals as well. But despite the return of fans, the game didn’t truly burst into life until a stunning, long range strike from Youri Tielemans broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute. Chelsea searched for an equalizer but Kasper Schmeichel made two fantastic stops to deny Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount. The ball did finally end up in the back of the net when Ben Chilwell latched onto a through pass from Thiago Silva and forced an own goal, but it was chalked off for offside against Chilwell. Leicester would go on to win their first ever FA Cup title.
For Chelsea, it was their second straight FA Cup final defeat, after suffering a 2-1 loss to Arsenal in last season’s final. And much like last season, there was some controversy in the game as a couple of decisions went against the Blues. First, there was a handball in the buildup to Leicester’s goal which the VAR did not review, while Ben Chilwell had a goal harshly ruled out for offside. While those decisions were harsh, they were in fact correct.
For the first decision, yes there was indeed a handball against Ayoze Perez, as he intercepted a pass from Reece James with the aid of his hand. The problem is, the handball did not DIRECTLY lead to a goal for Leicester. Rather, the goal came like seven or so seconds after he handled the ball. And the FA’s ruling on handballs against attackers states that if the handball incident does not IMMEDIATELY lead to a goal, or if the goal comes well after the handball incident, there will no longer be any need for the Video Assistant Referee to take a look at the situation.
Chelsea have actually benefited from this rule in the past; in the 3-3 draw against West Bromwich Albion earlier in the season, Tammy Abraham tapped in a last minute equalizer for Chelsea. There were shouts for a handball in the buildup but while Mason Mount did handle the ball, it did not DIRECTLY or IMMEDIATELY lead to the goal, and as such VAR was no longer required to review the incident.
The second incident was Chilwell’s offside. The Wingback latched onto a pass from Thiago Silva, saw his attempt saved but it went in off Wes Morgan. However VAR reviews showed that Chilwell might have been fractionally offside. That is the truth. The VAR cannot be blamed for this. Unfortunately, it is the rules that come into play. And the rule states that if any part of the attacking player that can be used to score a goal is offside, then the attacker is automatically offside – even if it is by millimetres.
That rule in itself is rubbish, because we are talking about millimetres. And there is room for error, because the image frame could’ve been frozen when the ball had already left the boot of the passer. So if you play it back a bit to the point when the ball is just about leaving the passer’s boot, you could have a situation in which the attacking player is no longer offside. Such is the tightness of some of these decisions, like the one we saw yesterday against Chilwell. But the rules state that even if it is by a millimeter, the opposing player should be ruled out.
So it is once again a case of the rules being absurd. But you cannot blame VAR for this. It was simply doing what it was asked to do. Rather than blame the VAR, the blame lies on the lawmakers, and those who decide the rules and how the VAR is implemented.