VAR Review: Why Simons’ goal for Netherlands vs. France was ruled out for offside

We’re analysing every VAR decision made throughout all 51 games at Euro 2024. On Friday, Netherlands thought they had scored against France only for the goal to be disallowed for offside. What happened?

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


Possible goal: Dumfries given offside on Simons goal

What happened: Xavi Simons scored what he thought was the opening goal for Netherlands in the 69th minute. However, while the players were celebrating referee Anthony Taylor was discussing the goal with his assistant, and it was disallowed for offside.

VAR decision: No goal.

VAR review: This all comes down to the nuances of the offside law and when a player in an offside position is interfering with an opponent.

Simons struck a first-time shot which arrowed into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal. All good so far.

However, Denzel Dumfries was stood in an offside position between goalkeeper Mike Maignan and the path of the ball.

Would Maignan have saved the shot? That’s not a consideration for the officials; there’s no decision about a keeper’s ability. What the officials have to ask themselves is whether Dumfries had an impact on Maignan, and if that affected his decision not to make a dive to attempt the save. Would the keeper have had to dive through the Dutch player to get to the ball? It’s without doubt a fair assessment considering Dumfries’ position.

It was quite an easy call to rule out the goal. So the truly controversial part is why it took the VAR, Stuart Attwell, and his assistants from Germany and Switzerland so long to support the on-field decision: 2 minutes and 47 seconds after Taylor blew his whistle for the offside. It is the longest VAR review of the tournament. It should have been a quick check and complete — which would have made it clearer the on-field call was indeed correct.

If it hadn’t been given by Taylor and his assistant, then a lengthy VAR check was far more understandable and the goal may have stood, as the interference is a subjective call.

It must be remembered the referee will only be sent to the monitor to change his decision, not just to confirm it.

While the Dutch might feel aggrieved, they benefited in slightly more controversial circumstances at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. In the group stage fixture, Ecuador thought they had equalised on the stroke of half-time through Pervis Estupiñán, but the goal was ruled out on the field for offside against Jackson Porozo. He also stood close to the goalkeeper in between him and the path of the ball — yet Andries Noppert had already dived in the opposite direction. On-field decision, supported by the VAR.

Passive offside decisions, when the offending player doesn’t touch or attempt to play the ball, are always the most controversial. But what’s controversial and what the law intends don’t marry up.

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