FA Cup final: Why VAR wasn't used when Emi Martinez appeared to handle outside the box


The 2020 FA Cup final may have lacked fans but it certainly didn’t lack entertainment.

Arsenal claimed a record 14th FA Cup win after coming back from 1-0 down inside six minutes to triumph 2-1 thanks to a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang brace.

In truth, the Gunners deserved the victory in a match but Chelsea will be cursing their bad luck.

Cesar Azpiliceta and Christian Pulisic both left the pitch due to hamstring injuries either side of half time, while Pedro dislocated his shoulder late in the match and couldn’t continue.

Then there was the Matteo Kovacic red card.

The Croatian was already on a yellow card when he challenged Granit Xhaka. He may have been slightly late and caught his opponent but it never warranted a second yellow card.

Try telling Anthony Taylor that though...

But there was another controversial incident to come.

Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez appeared to catch the ball outside of the penalty area but Taylor waved play on.

VAR didn’t get involved - but why?

Well, according to ESPN’s Dale Johnson, it couldn’t.

He tweeted: “I don't know if the ball is on the line (angle may be misleading), but the VAR can only intervene if he feels it should be a red card. The act of the goalkeeper handling outside the area is not an automatic red. The VAR cannot give a free-kick without a red.”

That makes sense.

But did Martinez even handle the ball outside of the area?

Well, there is an image going viral that suggest he did but Johnson suggests that Martinez didn’t actually have the ball in his arms.


Instead, other replays actually show the goalkeeper did handle the ball on the line of his penalty area and, therefore, hadn’t committed an offence.


That’s the end of that, then…

It's been an incredible journey for the Argentina goalkeeper who joined Arsenal 10 years ago. In 2012, he conceded five goals against Reading in a League Cup, just his second appearance for the club. He then played 12 league games in eight years. He's been on loan to six different club and is only starting due to Bernd Leno's injury.

And now, he's an Arsenal hero.

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