Evandro’s killer serve and the foot challenge
It is the quarterfinals of the FIVB World Championships in Vienna. It is later World Champions Evandro/Andre Loyola (Brazil) playing Saxton/Schalk from Canada. It is the second set after the Canadians had won the first. If the Brazilians lose this set, they are out. At 10:6 for Brazil it is Evandro serving. He has been voted best server on the World Tour for several years and his killer serves reaches speeds up to 100 kilometres per hour. And he usually pushes his luck jumping high and far into the court to conduct his serve. Some of his serves in the first set looked like foot faults, nobody noticed. But now the Canadians are requesting a video challenge for foot fault.
Video challenge can be requested in certain situations within 5 seconds after the rally
A video challenge can only be called in certain situations such as ball in/out, net touch, block touch or foot fault while serving. Technique challenges such as double contact or faulty set cannot be requested. Both teams have the right to call video verification for a referee’s decision twice per set. If the challenge is successful and the decision changed, the team keeps its challenges. If it is unsuccessful and the referee’s decision was correct, the number of remaining challenges for the requesting team is reduced by one.
Canadian challenge first rejected, then declared unsuccessful
At 10:6 the Canadian video challenge request is rejected with the referee arguing it was called too late. But the Canadian call was definitely within the 5 seconds after the end of the rally. This is the time period the FIVB regulations state. At Evandro’s next serve, the score is 11:6, the Canadians stop playing and challenge for foot fault again. This time their challenge is accepted. On the video screen, the line of the court is obviously moving while Evandro is serving. However, after analyzing the video, the challenge is declared unsuccessful by the referee. The Canadians lose the point. 12:6. The Brazilians win the second set with 22:1o and the following tie break and move to the seminfinals. The next day they will beat Austria’s Doppler/Horst in the final to become Beach Volleyball World Champions.
There are two questions that come up when reconsidering this situation:
- What exactly is a foot fault?
- When do teams have to make the call to request a foot fault challenge?
Evandro’s serve is not necessarily a foot fault
Regarding the first question, a foot fault is called if the player’s foot hits or crosses the end line of the court. When Evandro does his killer serve, he usually doesn’t cross the end line. He just arrives there with immense speed and pushes sand on top of the line so that the line moves. So the referee decision “no fault” seems to be the right one.
A foot fault challenge is different from other challenges
The second question seems to be a more complicated one. In contrast to other video challenge situations, a foot fault challenge has to be requested at the beginning of the rally, not after the rally has finished. It is not accepted to first finish the rally and then, depending on the rally’s outcome, call for a foot fault challenge. Therefore, calling a foot fault challenge is always risky since the requesting team needs to interrupt the rally to call the challenge. If it is rejected or unsuccessful, they lose the point without playing the rally.
The point is consistency
That is what happened to the Canadians at 12:6. To be consistent, the Canadians’ challenges should all have been accepted. Most of them would have probably been unsuccessful, since Evandro’s foot didn’t hit the line. So the point is consistency from the referee’s side. Probably the different character of the foot fault challenge wasn’t even clear to all of the referees.