Leanne Crichton accused football of taking a step backwards as Scotland’s Women’s World Cup clash with Argentina descended into farce.
The Scots crashed out of the competition after letting a 3-0 lead slip at the Parc des Princes but that only barely begins to tell the story of how chaotic officiating played its part in Crichton’s side’s downfall.
Milagros Menendez scored to start the Argentina comeback before Florencia Bosengundo had made it 3-2, then winning a penalty while Scotland made a double substitution.
The same player was allowed to retake a last-gasp spot-kick that had initially been saved by Lee Alexander after VAR ruled that the goalkeeper had encroached from her line.
And to add insult to injury, referee Ri Hyang-ok blew the final whistle after playing around a minute of added time, despite a minimum of four being signalled.
“I think the difficulty comes when you can’t speak to the referee and the referee doesn’t choose to speak to you,” said the Scotland midfielder.
“I think there’s a lot of discussions in the referee’s ear.
“I don’t know if that affects how she’s able to control the match but listen, world football needs to go away and look at how decisions like this are going to cost teams like Scotland.
“Even in the France game the other night [against Nigeria], it [a goalkeeper being harshly adjudged to have come off their line] happened as well and honestly, I don’t know; the game should be moving in a better direction and I’m stood here feeling that we’ve taken a couple of steps back.”
The 31-year-old added: “I don’t understand the decisions that have just unfolded in front of us.
“It’s honestly total confusion – take away the VAR – I don’t know how the referee hasn’t noticed that there’s still a substitution in process when they allow play to go on and the ball comes in, and the penalty’s awarded.
“I think, not only do we need to go away and look at how we’ve drawn this game – I think the referees need to go and look at how they’ve managed to lose control of such a huge game and such a huge moment in football.
“How have they managed to make those decisions because for me, that’s no excuse for that.”
VAR also ruled that Sophie Howard lunged in the box and felled Aldana Cometti late in the game, teeing up what would eventually prove to be the spot-kick that sent Scotland out of the competition.
Kim Little had scored in the first half to hand her team a shot at qualification for the round of 16 but a first World Cup goal provided few crumbs of consolation for the Arsenal star.
Little said: “The rules of the game are that if she steps off her line it’s a retake – we’ve seen it already in this tournament but it’s the original VAR decision I’m confused about.
“For 65, 70 minutes, everything was great but it’s a 90-minute game and we couldn’t see it out.
“I’ll come away having scored a World Cup goal but to be honest, it’s not something I’ll ever think about again.”
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