PARIS -- History was made Friday night during the opening game of the Women's World Cup in Paris between France and South Korea when the video assistant referee was used for the first time in women's football.
Referee Claudia Umpierrez disallowed Griedge Mbock Bathy's goal for France in the 26h minute after the VAR, led by Mauro Vigliano, showed she was offside by a few centimetres. The French centre back had hit a wonderful right foot volley after a flick by Wendie Renard. Les Bleues celebrated what they thought was their second goal of the match before having to wait a few minutes before the goal was eventually ruled out. France went on to win the match 4-0.
"It is a bit frustrating to get a goal like this disallowed, but the most important is to get back straight into the game and to focus again," Mbock Bathy said after the game with a smile on her face. "I knew Wendie was not offside, so they were checking my position. I am offside by half a toe and it is unlucky, but that is part of the game now. And next time, it might be in our favour."
The whole squad was briefed by the FIFA head of referees about VAR before the start of the competition.
"We had meetings about it and we knew how it worked," French left back Amel Majri said. "It felt a bit long while they were checking it and the rhythm of the game dropped a bit, but it is good to have VAR. We want the game to be fair and the decisions to be right."
For France head coach Corinne Diacre, the most important factor was not so much the break and the decision against her team, but how her players reacted. "It took a bit of time," she said. "I knew there was an issue with the goal because there were checking it for a long time. However, it was good to see the girls trying to keep the same intensity and rhythm after the goal was disallowed than before."
Eugenie Le Sommer, who opened the scoring, was at the start of the move leading to the goal and she had a feeling it might be disallowed.
"We expected VAR to be used tonight. We know it's part of the game now, even if it was the first time in women's football that it was used today," Le Sommer said. "I had a doubt about the goal, so I was not surprised. It is a detail because we won 4-0, but it is a shame because it was such a nice goal. VAR is here to make the game fairer and it was fair to rule the goal out because there was an offside."