FIFA insists Japan’s second goal in their shock World Cup victory over Spain was legitimate “based on the available evidence”, adding that some of the images shared online were “misleading”.
Ao Tanaka came in from close range to give Japan a 2–1 lead, but the goal was only conceded after a lengthy VAR review after the ball was found to have gone out of play before Brighton’s Kaoru Mitoma hacked it back from the back-line.
The goal sparked a huge debate among television pundits and online, with ITV pundit Graeme Souness demanding that FIFA share the images used to make the decision.
On Friday afternoon, the game’s global governing body published two messages on its official Twitter account in clarification.
“Japan’s second goal in their 2-1 win over Spain was checked by VAR to determine if the ball was out of play,” the first read.
“The video match officials used the goal-line camera footage to check whether the ball was still partially on the line or not.”
A second post added: “Other cameras may provide misleading images, but based on the available evidence, not all was out.”
The far post showed how a ball appeared to be completely behind the line and thus out of play from one angle, but when viewed from above, part of the ball was still over the line.
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu said, “If it was really out, it would have been a goal kick, but in the referee’s judgment it was in.
“We respected it, but we were willing to respect it anyway. The final verdict was that it was in.”
His counterpart in Spain, Luis Enrique, suggested some sort of “manipulation” had taken place, adding: “I felt something strange was going on when the VAR took just as much time to decide… I have nothing to say.”
Japan’s win saw them finish top of Group E, after causing another major upset by beating Germany in their opening match.
Spain held onto second place on goal difference despite Germany’s 4–2 win over Costa Rica.