BERLIN (AP) — The video assistant referee system stole the spotlight on the opening weekend of the German league as frustrations with the technology carried over from last season.
Players, coaches and fans are wondering how VAR can have worked so well at the World Cup in Russia in June and July, yet continue to cause problems in the Bundesliga.
Several games were overshadowed by what Schalke general manager Christian Heidel called a “shambles,” starting with contentious decisions in defending champion Bayern Munich’s win over Hoffenheim on Friday.
Franck Ribery earned a spot kick at 1-1 when he fell as he tried to get past a despairing tackle from Havard Nordtveit, then Robert Lewandowski was ordered to take it again when Arjen Robben encroached in the penalty area before the Poland forward tucked away the rebound after missing his first effort.
Bayern, which had been struggling, went on to win 3-1.
Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann was particularly critical of the VAR watching in Cologne for not intervening on the initial penalty decision.
The issues continued the next day, which was punctuated by the sight of referees consulting pitch-side monitors and talking on their headsets to the VAR.
Patrick Ittrich initially sent off Wout Weghorst before allowing him to continue in Wolfsburg’s 2-1 win against 10-man Schalke. The Dutch forward was shown a red card after barging into Guido Burgstaller, but the referee changed it to a yellow after looking at the incident again.
Ittrich had already sent off Schalke defender Matija Nastasic after an intervention from the VAR, leading to complaints from the visiting team.
“I felt sorry for the referee today. Cologne introduced the confusion,” Heidel said of the VAR. “The referee would probably have done a wonderful job if the VAR hadn’t intervened.”
Hertha Berlin was awarded a penalty in a 1-0 win over promoted Nuremberg despite an apparent foul from Vedad Ibisevic in the buildup.
There were issues too in Augsburg’s victory over Fortuna Duesseldorf and Borussia Moenchengladbach’s triumph over Bayer Leverkusen.
It’s not always clear why goals are ruled out, or why the VAR is intervening. Referees on the pitch are right in the firing line.
“They’re being left high and dry,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.
Swiss coach Lucien Favre finally won again in the Bundesliga as his new side Borussia Dortmund came from behind to beat Leipzig 4-1 on Sunday.
Favre spent the previous two seasons at French side Nice. He lost his previous six games in the Bundesliga before quitting as Moenchengladbach coach in September 2015.
Hendrik Weydandt was playing for seventh-tier amateur side TSV Gross Munzel until 2014, when he joined fourth-tier Egestorf/Langreder. Hannover snapped up the 23-year-old striker in the offseason and he has repaid the side with three goals in two games.
Weydandt scored one minute after coming on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen on Saturday, one week after claiming two goals in the 6-0 win over Karlsruher SC in the German Cup.
“It’s a fairytale,” Hannover sporting director Horst Heldt said. “That’s what is special about football.”