Thomas Kwiatkowski, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) involved in the contentious decision during a UEFA Champions League match between Paris St Germain (PSG) and Newcastle, has been temporarily suspended from his duties. The controversy stemmed from a penalty awarded to PSG, allowing them to draw the game against Newcastle. The penalty, netted by Kylian Mbappe during stoppage time, resulted from an arguable handball decision against Newcastle player Tino Livramento.
VAR Decision Sparks Controversy
The VAR official's removal from his upcoming Champions League game highlights the magnitude of the controversy surrounding the penalty decision. The call directly influenced the standings in Group F, maintaining PSG's two-point lead over Newcastle. This precarious position requires Newcastle to win their home game against AC Milan on December 13 and hope that PSG fails to secure a victory at Dortmund. This scenario would allow Newcastle to advance to the round of 16 of the Champions League, while the third-place team would proceed to the Europa League knockout playoffs.
Managerial Reactions to the Decision
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe expressed his frustration, questioning the VAR decision and suggesting that the slow-motion replay did not accurately represent the live event's dynamics. Despite the setback, Howe remains optimistic about Newcastle's chances to progress in the competition if they defeat AC Milan in their upcoming match and PSG does not secure a win against Borussia Dortmund. On the other hand, PSG coach Luis Enrique, while relieved by the late goal, expressed dissatisfaction with the team's inability to capitalize on numerous opportunities during the game.
Implications for Future Matches
The decision to remove the VAR official indicates UEFA’s recognition of the intervention as an error. This recognition could potentially inspire a reassessment of the application of the handball law, which was the basis of the contentious decision. The incident has left a significant impact on Newcastle's path in the Champions League, necessitating a win in their next game and favourable outcomes in other matches for them to secure qualification.