VAR Review: Why no Rodri red card, Croatia’s disallowed goal

We’re analysing every VAR decision made throughout all 51 games at Euro 2024. On Saturday, Spain midfielder Rodri escaped a red card when giving away a penalty against Croatia, who had the resulting goal ruled out. But why?

After each game, we take a look at the major incidents to examine and explain the process both in terms of VAR protocol and the Laws of the Game.

Possible red card: Rodri challenge on Petkovic

What happened: Croatia were awarded a penalty in the 78th minute when Rodri fouled Bruno Petkovic, who seemed certain to score. Referee Michael Oliver showed the Spain player a yellow card with the VAR, Stuart Attwell, checking both the spot kick and a possible red card.

VAR decision: Penalty stands, Petkovic effort saved by Unai Simón.

VAR review: Rodri’s tackle feels like one that should result in a red card, and it certainly has in past seasons. Yet the IFAB, football’s lawmakers, have a dislike for a red card where a player has made a normal football action in relation to an opponent. So much so that last year the law for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (DOGSO) was relaxed further.

It now says that where a defending player denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by committing an offence which was an attempt to play the ball or a challenge for the ball” inside the penalty area then it should be treated as unsporting behaviour and the player only booked.

It means that pretty much any challenge with the feet inside the box will now be considered unsporting behaviour, rather than DOGSO.

A player having “no possibility to play the ball” still exists in law, but it would have to be exceptionally cynical to qualify for a red card, which is essentially reserved for “holding, pulling, pushing.”

Two seasons ago this would be a red card, now it’s not so clear cut.

You could also argue the penalty itself was soft, as Petkovic went down theatrically, but once given it won’t be overturned.

Possible encroachment: Perisic on Petkovic goal

What happened: Petkovic stepped up to take the penalty, but it was saved by goalkeeper Simón. The loose ball ran for Ivan Perisic, who squared for Petkovic to tap home at the second attempt. While the players celebrated, Attwell checked for encroachment.

VAR decision: Goal disallowed.

VAR review: While the goalkeeper was stepping forward, he had one foot level with the goal line, so it was a legal save.

Perisic, however, was encroaching — which is penalised by the VAR if it has a material impact on the outcome. As Perisic created the goal for Petkovic, it’s clear he did.

Then it’s a question of the restart, and the discipline of all the Spain players is key.

If only the attacking team is encroaching, the restart is an indirect free kick to Spain.

Yet if players from both teams are encroaching, the penalty would be retaken. But all the Spain players held their line on the edge of the box.

Perisic was one of two Croatia players inside the area at the time the penalty was struck, so there’s no retake and Spain get the free kick.