Japan v Spain: VAR thought Daizen Maeda’s head was the ball

Easy mistake to make


The video assistant referee who awarded Japan’s controversial winning goal against Spain has admitted he confused Daizen Maeda’s bald head with the match ball.

Mexico’s Fernando Guerrero overturned the decision to disallow Ao Tanaka’s goal after the assistant ruled Kaoru Mitoma’s cutback had crossed the byline.

DOHA, QATAR – NOVEMBER 30: Daizen Maeda of Japan trains during the Japan Training Session at Al Sadd SC New Training Facilities on November 30, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Mohamed Farag/Getty Images)

Tanaka’s goal sealed Japan’s dramatic 2-1 comeback win over Spain which condemned Germany to an embarrassing early exit from Group E.

In the wake of the controversy, Guerrero confessed to mistaking Daizen’s bald bonce with the official World Cup ball, Al Rihla.

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‘These things happen in football’, the Mexican official told Paddy Power News, while fanning himself with a wad of Yen.

‘Daizen Maeda has a very spherical head, which unfortunately I’ve mistaken for a size 5 football’.

Reanalysing the video for Paddy Power News, Guerrero said:

‘As you can see from the replay, Daizen’s noggin is very much still in play. The ball, well, it’s f**king miles out, isn’t it?’


‘When you look at it again, you can see why a lot of German people might be upset about it.

‘In my defence, I only had about four minutes to look at it from a thousand different angles slowed down to 500 frames per second.

‘Would they have gone on to win it? Four-times winners; eight finals. I mean, the pedigree is there but I guess we’ll never know now, will we?’

Germany’s forward #09 Niclas Fuellkrug reacts at the end of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group E football match between Costa Rica and Germany at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, north of Doha on December 1, 2022. (Photo by Ina Fassbender / AFP) (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, England fans rejoiced as Germany exited the tournament, with comparing the dubious Japan goal to Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal at the 2010 World Cup.

‘Now they know how it feels’, tweeted @ComingHome66

‘If we’d had VAR in South Africa, then Germany would have only beaten us 4-2 instead of 4-1 that day’.

‘That was a disgraceful decision. Unlike the one in ’66. Hursty’s was well over the line’.

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