West Ham defender Fabian Balbuena was sent off as Paraguay crashed out of the Copa America. Paraguay lost to hosts Brazil in the knockout stages of the South American tournament after Balbuena’s red card.

Brazil laboured to victory over the less-fancied Paraguayans. Despite playing against 10 men for over half an hour, Brazil could not break through and ended up winning on penalties.

Fabian Balbuena receives VAR red card

Roberto Tobar sent Fabian Balbuena off after watching the replay on his VAR screen. (Photo by Lucas Uebel/Getty Images)

With the scores tied at 0-0, Paraguay’s game plan of containing Brazil was working well. But this was all undone by Balbuena’s 58th-minute red card.

Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino charged forward towards the box and Balbuena clashed with him. Firmino threw himself to the ground on the edge of the box and referee Roberto Tobar made his decision.


But he went over to consult VAR as well. The Chilean referee was checking three things. Was there enough contact to warrant a foul? If so, was the contact inside or outside of the box? And finally, was this a sending-off offence?

Tobar ruled that Balbuena did trip Firmino (outside of the box) and that he denied a clear goalscoring opportunity. This meant that the Hammers defender was shown a straight red card.

It was yet another ambiguous call as controversy continues to surround VAR. And with VAR moving to the Premier League next season, one West Ham player has already been on the wrong end of a debatable decision.

Have something to tell us about this article?