I HAD a letter from a reader recently about an incident in the German league match between Kiel and Bochum, which attracted some attention in this country.

The situation was a simple one, but enabled Bochum to scramble a draw.

The ball was running out of play over the goal line a few yards from the goal.

A Keil substitute, who was warming up behind the goal, kicked the ball back to his goalkeeper for a goal-kick.

The VAR, however, had spotted the ball hadn’t completely left the field of play – the whole of the ball must cross the line – and informed the referee.

The referee had no choice but to award a penalty kick.

‘The last time I saw someone stop the ball from going out,’ said my correspondent, ‘it was a spectator and the referee restarted the game with a dropped ball’.

That would still be the answer today for spectator interference.

However, the law changes in 2016 made it an offence for team officials and substitutes to interfere with the ball in play, penalised by a direct free-kick or a penalty kick.

Just after those changes were announced, I saw a video of a physio in South American football, who ran onto the pitch and stopped the ball going into the goal.

This is obviously more what this change is aimed at.

There are, however, two niggling questions about the guilty substitute in the German game also receiving a red card.

Firstly, the law says this should only happen if the substitute denies the opposing team a goal or obvious goal scoring opportunity.

In this case, he merely, inadvertently stopped the ball going out of play. Would not a warning have been enough action?

The second query is about the action of the VAR. The protocol for VARs says they may assist the referee only when there is a serious missed incident in relation to a goal/no goal, penalty/no penalty, direct red cards or mistaken identity.

On that basis, they shouldn’t have interfered at all.