How VAR made history with penalty awarded to France against Australia

History was made in the France vs. Australia World Cup game on Saturday when an intervention by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) led to Les Bleus being awarded a penalty.

It was the first time video technology had been used in the World Cup to directly influence a referee to change his decision. And it led to the opening goal of the game as Antoine Griezmann scored from the spot.

What happened?

Griezmann was through on goal when he went down under a challenge from Joshua Risdon. The referee on the field, Andres Cunha, decided there was no foul as the ball ran through to Australia goalkeeper Maty Ryan.

At first replays seemed to suggest Risdon played the ball onto Griezmann and it ran through to Ryan. Subsequent replays then gave the impression that Risdon could have hooked Griezmann with his follow-through. But the third replay suggested contact, if any, was minimal -- but there was contact.

When did VAR get involved?

The VAR, who for this game is Mauro Vigliano from Argentina, will look at every goal-related incident in a game. Play will only stop, however, if the VAR informs the referee a closer look is needed. This is what happened here.

Did VAR tell the referee it was a penalty?

If the VAR thinks it is definitely a penalty, he can advise the referee to change his decision -- though the final decision must always be the referee's and not that of the VAR. It appears the VAR was not so certain in this incident.

Why did the referee watch a replay on TV by the pitch?

There may be incidents that the VAR believes could lead to the referee changing his decision, but that are not clear-cut. In this instance he can suggest to the referee that he watches a replay himself and take his own view.

But it wasn't a clear and obvious error?

While that is the overriding mantra with VAR, the key point here is what referee Cunha believes after viewing the TV replay. If he himself believes he has made a clear and obvious error he will change his decision. It could be that everyone watching on TV doesn't agree, but what matters is the opinion of the referee.

Many people may believe that this was far too borderline to overturn the original decision on the pitch.

Has referee Cunha used VAR before?

Cunha is from Uruguay, and their Liga Aguila domestic competition does not have VAR. However, he does referee in the Copa Libertadores, which does have it in the latter stages, but only for a handful of games.

But Cunha caused controversy in the semifinals last year, when acting as the VAR rather than the match referee. Cunha did not intervene to advise a penalty to River Plate in the first half, but then did give opponents Lanus a decisive penalty in the 69th minute.

Can it still be a foul if Risdon touched the ball?

Yes, if the follow-up challenge still brings the player down, a slight touch of the ball doesn't rule out a foul being given. Nor does it matter if the ball is running through to the keeper: a foul is a foul.

Should Risdon have been sent off?

The double jeopardy rule means that a player is no longer sent off for a foul inside the area if they have made a genuine attempt to win the ball, so a yellow card for the Australian player was the correct decision.

How was it different to the foul on Argentina's Pavon?

In Argentina's game with Iceland a couple of hours later, Cristian Pavon went down in the box under contract from Birkir Saevarsson. However, play continued without an official review.

Fouls will still be a subjective decision, so while one VAR might advise a second look, another might not for exactly the same incident. Human interpretation will still exist.

However, most would agree that there should at least have been an official review of the incident even if they did decide not to give a penalty as a result. There was very little difference between the Pavon and Griezmann incidents.