Referee and VAR suspended for not spotting Otamendi elbow on Raphinha

South American football chiefs suspend the referee and VAR official for failing to punish Argentina’s Nicolas Otamendi for elbowing Brazil star Raphinha… with the Leeds man needing FIVE stitches in his mouth

  • Argentina’s Nicolas Otamendi was seen catching Brazil’s Raphinha via his elbow
  • Otamendi picked up Raphinha, whose mouth was bleeding following the clash
  • No card was given to Otamendi, with Raphinha needing five stitches in his mouth
  • The South American FA have suspended the on-pitch referee and VAR official 

The South American FA have suspended two referees, including one VAR official, for failing to punish Argentina’s Nicolas Otamendi who elbowed Brazil winger Raphinha in the face and caused his mouth to bleed. 

During the first-half of the Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier between the two South American rivals, Otamendi’s elbow caught Leeds star Raphinha in the face, before the former Manchester City defender picked the Brazilian back to his feet who was gushing blood.

It later transpired that Raphinha needed five stitches in his mouth to fix the bleeding and South American football authorities CONMEBOL have sanctioned the match and VAR officials for failing to notice the clash or present Otamendi with any card. 

South America’s FA have suspended the Argentina-Brazil referee (right) for failing to spot an elbow by Nicolas Otamendi on Raphinha (second left)

Raphinha (left) was caught by Otamendi’s (right) elbow which caused his mouth to bleed

A CONMEBOL statement claimed that on-field referee Andres Ismael Cunha Soca Vargas and the VAR referee Esteban Daniel Ostojich Vega made ‘serious errors in the exercise of their function’ in their handling of the situation. 

The statement continued: ‘As a result, the CONMEBOL Referee Committee resolve to suspend the referees Andres Ismael Cunha Soca and Esteban Daniel Ostojich Vega for an indefinite period in the exercise of their functions in competitions organised by CONMEBOL.’

Argentina and Brazil held each other to a goalless draw on Tuesday as the former joined the latter in qualifying for next winter’s World Cup in Qatar, but Selecao boss Tite was furious that Otamendi was not sent off. 

Otamendi then went to pick Raphinha up following the clash – which VAR did not intervene in

Raphinha needs five stitches in his mouth after the clash, with the VAR official suspended too

‘Who is in the VAR? It’s simply impossible, I’ll repeat, it’s simply impossible not to see Otamendi’s elbow on Raphinha,’ he said.

‘Would that determine the result? I do not know. High level VAR referee cannot work in this way, it is inconceivable. It’s not the term I wanted to say, I’m saying this because I’m polite.’ 

The decision not to send off Otamendi baffled many in the Brazilian community, including former Arsenal midfielder Gilberto Silva – who slammed both the linesman in front of the incident and the VAR in use on Tuesday.

‘The VAR must be sleeping,’ Gilberto posted on his Instagram story. ‘That is, without mentioning it was in front of the linesman.’ 

Otamendi, meanwhile, claimed on Instagram on Wednesday that he was focused on ‘all (of the) ball’ when questioned about the Raphinha challenge.  




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