The first-ever competitive professional soccer game to feature the International Football Association Board's "Video Assistant Referee" (the clunky name IFAB has come up with to describe the use of video replays in assisting referees) was played by New York Red Bulls II and Orlando City B in USL on August 12.
The first-ever VAR-inspired review occurred after an incident in the 34th minute. NYRB II's Junior Flemmings got past the Orlando back line, and was toppled by Conor Donovan.
Referee Ismail Elfath got a whisper in his ear from the VAR. The standard, as we were told repeatedly by the commentary team, for VAR intervention is "clearly wrong": the call made by the referee must be clearly wrong for the VAR to recommend a review. And even then, the referee does not have to accept the recommendation.
In this case, Elfath, who had called for a foul on the edge of the box, did opt to have a look at the replay. And that review did not result in a change to the original call, more an amplification: Elfath sent Donovan off for, presumably, denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
The question of right or wrong is immaterial. This is about soccer history: the first official use of video replays to affect a referee's decision on the pitch in a competitive professional game. And it featured Junior Flemmings of the New York Red Bulls II and Conor Donovan of Orlando City B.
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