FIFA insists Japan’s second goal in their shock World Cup victory over Spain was legitimate “on the evidence available”, and added some of the images shared online were “misleading”.
Ao Tanaka bundled home from close range to give Japan a 2-1 lead, but the goal was only given following a lengthy VAR review after it appeared the ball had gone out of play before Brighton’s Kaoru Mitoma cut it back from the byline.
The goal sparked huge debate among television pundits and online, with ITV pundit Graeme Souness demanding FIFA share the images which had been used to help make the decision.
On Friday afternoon the game’s global governing body published two posts on its official Twitter account by way of clarification.
“Japan’s second goal in their 2-1 win over Spain was checked by VAR to determine if the ball had gone out of play,” the first read.
“The video match officials used the goal line camera images to check if the ball was still partially on the line or not.”
A second post added: “Other cameras may offer misleading images but on the evidence available, the whole of the ball was not out of play.”
The second post showed how a ball could appear to be wholly behind the line and therefore out of play from one angle, but when viewed from above part of the ball was still hanging over the line.
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu said: “If it was really out it would have been a goal kick, but the judgement of the referee was it was in.
“We respected it but we were willing to respect either way. The final judgement was it was in.”
His Spain counterpart, Luis Enrique, suggested some sort of “manipulation” had occurred, adding: “I felt that something fishy was going on when the VAR took as much time as it did to decide… I have nothing to say.”
Japan’s victory ensured they finished top of Group E, having caused another huge upset in their opening game by beating Germany.
Spain held on to second spot on goal difference despite Germany’s 4-2 win over Costa Rica.