This shockingly bad red card from the U-20 World Cup raises VAR questions

BY Caitlin Murray • June 5, 2017

Italy eked past Zambia in the Under-20 World Cup Monday morning, 3-2, but it certainly wasn't because luck was going their way.

The Azzurri had to play with 10 men for most of the match after a shockingly questionable red card decision (which you can watch in the video player above). There seems to be no obvious explanation for the red card, despite the fact a video assistant referee, or VAR, reviewed the play.

In the 40th minute, Zambia held a 1-0 lead when striker Edward Chilufya raced into the box, beating Italian defender Giuseppe Pezzella. Chilufya then couldn't beat the Italian goalkeeper, but the referee pointed to the spot, awarding a penalty kick and sending Pezzella off with a red card.

The VAR may have been looking at the contact Pezzella made with Chilufya's shoulder, but it was pretty minimal and it didn't actually impede Chilufya on the play. Up until that controversial red card, the VAR team at the U-20 World Cup had been showing how well video replay could work in a FIFA tournament.

The controversy from Monday's decision should add a new wrinkle to the debate about video replay in soccer, especially since FIFA seems set on adding VARs to the World Cup next year. Video replay corrected several calls over the course of the U-20 World Cup so far, but it looks like this time, the technology got it wrong or at least was applied in the harshest of ways.

Italy beat Zambia, 3-2, and now advance to the semifinals where they will face England.

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