Euro 2024: How New VAR Handball Technology Works After Decision Against Belgium's Romelu Lukaku

Euro 2024: How New VAR Handball Technology Works After Decision Against Belgium's Romelu Lukaku

Martin Moses
updated at June 18, 2024 at 6:33 AM
  • Romelu Lukaku had an outing to forget as the striker fluffed his lines repeatedly in Belgium's surprising loss to Slovakia in their Euro 2024 opener
  • The Chelsea forward also saw the Video Assistant Referee disallow his two goals for offside and a handball by Lois Openda in the build-up phase
  • The late handball call saw the officials rely on a new technology that detects if the player handled the ball to corroborate on-pitch camera angles

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Euro 2024 delivered its first upset of the tournament on June 17, when Slovakia upset Belgium in a Group E clash at the Frankfurt Arena.

Ivan Schranz scored the only goal of the game in the seventh minute after a defensive lapse in the Belgian defence gave them an unlikely route to a goal.

Ivan Schranz, Belgium vs Slovakia, Euro 2024, Romelu Lukaku, handball technology
Slovakia players celebrate Ivan Schranz's goal against Belgium at Euro 2024 on June 17, 2024. Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media.
Source: Getty Images

Belgium pushed hard for an equaliser, with Romelu Lukaku particularly unfortunate. The Chelsea striker missed three big chances and also saw two goals disallowed by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

The first of his goals came after Amadou Onana headed down the ball for him to finish from close range, but the VAR adjudged him to have strayed offside.

The second one was disallowed for a handball in the build-up. Substitute, Lois Openda, thought he had set up the Red Devils' equaliser, but the RB Leipzig man had handled the ball before squaring it to Lukaku.

How new VAR handball technology works

The handball decision sparked a heated debate online, especially after VAR replay footage showed a new technology used to determine whether Openda had indeed handled the ball.

As USA Today reports, the new technology uses a contact chip implanted into the Adidas ball to detect its movement. The chip's sensor can identify the exact moment contact was made with the ball. It denotes this touch in the form of a 'heartbeat', which corresponds with what camera angles show.

The new technology has some similarities to the 'Snickometer' or 'Ultra-edge' used in cricket to determine whether the ball touched the bat, as explained by Trax Insights.

Handball rules explained

Well, the technology's work ends at determining if the player handled the ball, but whether it is a punishable offence remains at the discretion of the referee. For instance, many can argue that despite the ball clearly grazing Openda's arm, it wasn't a deliberate offence as he was in motion.

The other bone of contention was whether Belgium should have had the goal ruled out since he wasn't the goal-scorer. Given that the handball wasn't deliberate, there is an understanding that the goal would have stood in the Premier League, but the rules appear to be much stricter in UEFA competitions.

IFAB Laws Section 12 talk about the goal being disallowed if the scorer uses his arm or if the ball touches his arm before scoring, but there is no mention of what happens if the handball occurs in the build-up.

De Bruyne consoles his children after Belgium loss

Sports Brief also previously reported that Kevin De Bruyne consoled his children at the end of Belgium's Euro 2024 game against Slovakia.

The veteran, who captained his national side for the first time in a major tournament, failed to inspire them to victory as they lost by a goal.

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Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)