French media have jumped on World Cup final referee Szymon Marciniak for his decision to allow Argentina’s third goal to stand. At first glance, there is little wrong with Lionel Messi’s rebound strike, even if it did require a tight VAR check for offside and goalline technology to confirm it.
Messi’s extra-time goal looked to have sealed the match before Kylian Mbappe completed a dramatic hattrick with a penalty, sending the match to a decisive shootout in one of the best finals of all-time. Things could have been even more shocking though, with replays of Messi’s goal showing that two extra Argentina players had encroached onto the pitch before the goal was scored.
Images of the goal from a new angle clearly depict an Argentina substitute goalkeeper and another outfield sub both anticipating the goal, running to celebrate during Lautaro Martinez’s initial strike only to be caught out by Hugo Lloris’ save. By the time Messi scored the follow-up they are both on the field of play and, according to the laws of the game, should have been the reason that the goal was disallowed.
This was picked up on in France, but in further exploration, it turns out that Mbappe’s equaliser should have been ruled out too.
By the time he had struck the late penalty, his second of the match, to ensure that Didier Deschamps’ side remained in the hunt for the trophy, there were no less than seven of his teammates from the bench all running onto the pitch to celebrate, as picked out by Marciniak, who responded to the French criticism of his decisions.
The rules state: “The referee must disallow the goal if the extra person was: a player, substitute, substituted player, sent-off player or team official of the team that scored the goal.”
In this instance there wouldn’t have been much impact on the game, both goals should have been ruled out by the rules and it would have remained level at 2-2, but that wouldn’t have had the same tense effect on the proceedings.
There’s no guarantee that had Messi’s goal been ruled out that Mbappe would have made it 3-2 anyway, even with an illegal equaliser, but it’s yet another strand of action to add to the fallout from a memorable World Cup final.