The new season of the NWSL, the top flight of women’s football in the United States, got underway at the weekend.
From 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson scoring a stunning goal on her Angel City debut, to a five-goal thriller between San Diego Wave and Chicago Red Stars, it was an opening weekend to remember.
The NWSL also became the first women’s domestic football league in the world to implement VAR into every match.
The technology was used at the 2019 Women’s World Cup and Euro 2022, and is also in place for the knockout stages of the Women’s Champions League. But it has been absent from women’s league football, until now.
Fans were not particularly enthused by the use of VAR during the NWSL’s opening weekend, however, with one incident in particular causing confusion.
Angel City have goal ruled out by VAR
Angel City were flying in their encounter against Gotham FC, going 1-0 up in the 11th minute after Thompson’s thunderous effort.
It looked like the side had doubled their lead just five minutes later with another long-range goal.
Japanese star Jun Endo picked up the ball on the halfway line, driving forward and unleashing a fierce shot as she noticed Gotham FC goalkeeper Abby Smith off her line.
But Angel City’s celebrations were cut short as the referee was called over to the VAR monitor, subsequently disallowing the goal.
The video replays shown on the CBS broadcast made it difficult to see why the goal had been ruled out, but it was believed to be for a foul in the build-up.
Video: Watch Jun Endo’s 40-yard screamer for Angel City ruled out
How did fans react to Angel City’s disallowed goal?
Football fans took to social media to share their frustration about the decision, with one writing: “Truly one of the worst VAR rulings I’ve seen”.
Another posted: “VAR, now ruining the game in another league…”, while a third commented: “VAR’s first ever WRONG goal reversal. Way to start us off”.
Others expressed their confusion over the reasoning behind the disallowed goal, with one fan posting: “Uhh can anyone explain what happened here?”
Another wrote: “It’s fun because there’s no actual foul so everyone gets to be just as confused as I am.”
Another fan asked why VAR had been introduced when the quality of referees in the NWSL had not been improved.
“I said when NWSL announced they were getting VAR, the referees are already garbage at refereeing,” they said. “And now you think you can train them on VAR?!?!?! Proof this season is going to be trash with VAR. They DO NOT KNOW HOW TO USE IT.”
Angel City went on to lose 2-1, with goals from Margaret Purce and Lynn Williams completed the comeback for Gotham FC.