Several complaints have been made by coaches, players, and even supporters (fans) with regards to the officiating in the premier league; is anything being done about it? that is a question left for the FA to answer. Scenarios of this sort, are in plentiful quantities, and would be revised as we read on.
The Premier League is an English top flight league with so much respect and regard. The league, has been greatly accorded on several occasions to it’s fascination, buzz and ecstasy; however only on a few occasions has it been accorded to its officiating.
When was VAR introduced to the Premier League?
The premier league in the 2018/2019 season, confirmed the introduction of the video assistant referee (VAR) into the premier league system ahead of the 2019/2020 campaign.
Why was VAR(video assistant referee) introduced to the PL?
Well, VAR was introduced in the Premier League to help assist referees when making decisions. The pace at which football games are being played is really high and so it is really difficult for referees and their assistants to keep track of all the things that happen on the football pitch.
So in other to help these referees make better decisions and reduce the errors in officiating games, VAR was introduced to the Premier League.
However, this has not always been the case in the premier league. In fact, the introduction of VAR has led to even more frustration from fans, players, managers and pundits.
The technology is there and the referees have all they need, but they still can’t seem to get it right. In this article, we’d be looking at some of the times VAR and PL referees have failed to make the right decisions in Premier League games.
Controversial VAR decisions in the 2022/23 Premier League season
Chelsea Vs Tottenham
The London derby was one that brought a huge topic of debate for fans and pundits, as there was limpid controversy in both goals scored by the away side, but as we know football is a game of opinions and ideas; so here is ours.
Spurs first equalizer
The home team (Chelsea) conveyed their utter domination from the fist 45′ into the second; which only left them in contention for a second goal, but rather than getting a second goal for themselves, they conceded one.
The concession of the equalizer, stemmed from a possible foul in the build up by Rodrigo Bentancur, on Kai Havertz right in the discretion of the referee.
Both the player on the receiving end (Kai Havertz) and his manager Thomas Tuchel, were totally convinced it was a foul, but the convincing foul in their eyes, was not mutual in the eyes of the referee.
From the image above, it is clear that Bentancur failed to make contact with the ball and he took the man out instead of the ball, and with the way VAR works it is meant to be checked as long as this action led to a goal.
It was checked, but the VAR didn’t deem it as a clear an obvious error by the referee and so the goal stood.
Spurs Second Equalizer
As the match went on, Chelsea’s second half pressure eventually told when a pass laid on a platter by Raheem Sterling for Reece James, was slotted home into Hugo lloris’ net to give them back a deserved 2-1 lead.
It did not end there, as there was another moment of controversy which saw Spurs steal a point at the Capital.
A corner kick conceded by home side Chelsea, saw a foul in the Chelsea box, with Christian Romero pulling down Marc Cucurella by the hair, right in front of the referee.
Since when has pulling of a person’s hair been ideal in the world of football, especially one done resulting to a goal.
With the use of the video assistant referee (VAR), we expect that such offence is revisited and properly overseen, but it is not unclear that it is not being done.
Other Occasions With Controversies
Bristol City Manager Nigel Pearson Said in An Interview
“I’ve got to be honest with you, I thought about it last year, and I’ve thought about it this year as well, and it is basically to pack up being involved in the sport, not because of how shallow the modern game is, and how some of the aspects of the modern game irritate me; but the standard of officiating, is unfortunately at an all time low.
The interviewer then asked him ‘Do you get an explanation when you go and ask about things like that?’ He said;” I can’t be bothered; but I’m afraid when it happens all the time like the situation today, (Rob Akinson was fouled in what was a possible penalty, that was not awarded) as far as I am concerned the integrity of the sport is being compromised.”
He was thereafter asked, “Do you feel it’s a lack of consistency?” He said “No they are consistently poor.” He went ahead to say “I might get in trouble again for this, but someone has to say it; I’m sick to death of people like me (in the football profession), having our jobs in jeopardy, because of…; it’s alright if we play badly weekly; I can take losing my job because of that, but what I can’t do is keep up with what is such a worry for the game(poor officiating).
Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson, is one of a thousand managers that have complained of such poor act from officials in football. It becomes even a sore one to take, when on the receiving end and painfully affected, which is why in my opinion and that of counterparts, these officials should be held accountable for their actions.
Manchester United Vs Southampton
In what was the 60th minute of a frantic affair at St Mary’s stadium (only in GW4), there was a handball shout by the Southampton players against United’s Mctominay. Fans, and generally the vast majority, believe United got away with one against the home side, after seeing Scott Mtominay handle the ball twice inside the box.
Southampton had their chances, and had just past the hour mark with a 1-0 deficit. The entire stadium believed they deserved a penalty, as Che Adams battled the ball with Mctominay, and after taking the ball down with his chest, it hit the arm of the United player outside the box.
The United player, then attempted to re-adjust his body after getting into the box, and while doing so, he handled the ball again. The protest from Che Adams, and his fellow Saints, fell on deaf ears as there was not even a VAR check. Supporters have precipitously reacted to the incident online, and they think the Saints have been hard done by.
Some of their reactions included:
“I literally don’t know the rules of football anymore.”
Another person said:
“This is literally traveling in basketball.”
“He might as well have picked it up and booted it out.” Others just expressed their utter amusement to the fact that there was not even a VAR check. on such offense.
Arsenal Vs Aston Villa
Foul on Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale
The direct corner goal scored by Villa’s Douglas Luis was also in a controversial situation, and because the Referee Robert Jones, officially allowed the goal stand, it became more frustrating for Arsenal fans.
In the situation, Aston Villa’s midfielder Kamara, illegally blocked Aaron Ramsdale from moving, as he held the goalkeeper down in his 6 yard area, thereby preventing him from getting a hold of the ball, and Luis’s corner went straight into the goal. I thought goalkeepers are supposed to be protected?
Penalty shout in the same game against Villa
In a match where Arsenal were utterly dominant from minute one(1) saw a foul committed by Tyrone Mings in minute seven(7) which could have seen a penalty awarded to Arsenal against Villa, but wasn’t.
Following the collision that took place in the Villa box, Bukayo Saka pleaded for a penalty, accompanied by his teammates. Saka appeared to be thrown to the ground by Mings, but the match referee (Robert Jones) immediately dismissed the possibility of a penalty.
Both the player on the receiving end of the supposed foul (Bukayo Saka), and the Arsenal supporters were disappointed that the VAR had reviewed the appeal, and not awarded the penalty.
Should Arsenal have been awarded a penalty ?
Reactions from fans were captured on twitter, They are as follows:
One person said:
“Mings has picked Saka from the ground, there you have got to give a penalty for that.”
Another person said:
“How is that not a penalty on Saka? Absolutely stonewall.” The individual went ahead to say “Mings had his hands wrapped around Saka’s body, and he has conned the referee by holding his other arm up as if to say “I’m not touching him” He is clearly holding him, and that’s a penalty.
Liverpool Vs Everton
The Merseyside Derby which fell under the fixture list in GW6, turned out to be such a cagey affair at Goodison Park. Both teams in red and blue shirts respectively, forced out saves from corresponding goalkeepers, but there came a moment of question when Virgil Van Dijk was involved in a nasty looking challenge on Everton’s Amadou Onana.
The cynical foul committed by the Liverpool center-back, saw him receive a yellow card, although the color of the card was equivocal as a similar foul committed by a different player, could see a totally different upshot.
Van Dijk planted his right foot high on Onana’s shin, but he escaped a red card with match referee Anthony Taylor showing the Liverpool defender just a yellow card. However the stir online inferenced an opinion that the Dutch man should have seen a red card.
Social media reactions include:
“No doubt, it is absolutely a red card”
“It is only a miracle Van Dijk is still in this match”
Here goes another one:
“Van Dijk should have seen a red card for the foul on Onana, but it’s Liverpool, so no chance. The officials are ruining the league we love with their bad officiating.”
West Ham Vs Chelsea
This game also fell in GW6, and here is another controversial referee decision; which only goes to show that we as fans and lovers of the game, experience poor officiating from these officials both games and weeks in week out.
It was a frenetic derby at the London stadium where West Ham United hosted Chelsea. Although the deadlock was not broken only until 15 minutes into the second half, but Chelsea came up with an equalizer, and a leading goal within minutes 76′ and 88′.
David Moyes subbed on Maxwell Cornet only a few minutes before Chelsea scored their second goal, and just 2 minutes after(91′) Maxwell Cornet equalized for The Hammers; which saw another moment of controversy.
The late equalizer scored by West Ham’s Maxwell Cornet was chalked off after a VAR review judged that Jarrod Bowen had fouled Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy in the build up.
When former premier league referee Dermot Gallagher was asked about the disallowed goal, he said he believed that VAR confused the issue around West Ham’s disallowed goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and that referee Andrew Madley should not have changed his mind (As the goal was initially allowed before a VAR check).
In a post match interview West Ham United Manager David Moyes had his say on the incident.
David Moyes on the exchange between him and the officials at Full-time:
“You’ve seen it, and as well have had the chance to assess it yourself; It’s a scandalous decision, absolutely rotten decision from one of the supposedly elite referees (Andrew Madley), It’s just an unbelievable decision that went against us.”
When asked on what he’d say to his players after such decision making from the officials, and then leaving the bridge without even a point.
“There is not much we can say, as we could have gotten back to 2-2, and there is nothing that could be done, the players have done a great job all day.” He (David Moyes), and new club captain Declan Rice went ahead to say how They Have Lost Faith In VAR.
Arsenal Vs Manchester United
As earlier stated, the weekends action was marred by a series of decisions that were questionable or atrocious; in ones that were either overturned thanks to the intervention of VAR, or not given despite the presence of the review system, which enraged managers of teams on the receiving end of poor officiating, as they were barely able to contain their feelings in post match interviews.
Alas this blockbuster of a game fell in this category of poor officiating when the Gunners visited Old Trafford in their 100 percent winning premier league record.
Although United had previously hit form, winning their last three games, the Gunners were still favorites to procure the 3 points; and they certainly lived up to this expectation when they broke the deadlock with a wonderfully chipped goal by Gabriel Martinelli in just minute 11′.
However, the goal was chalked off after a VAR check; Martin Odegard, was adjudged to have fouled Christian Eriksen in the build up. There was a lengthy VAR check, and after paying a visit to the monitor on the sidelines, referee Paul Tierney ruled out the goal.
Gary Neville spoke on Sky Sports super Sunday coverage, where he said:
“It was soft no doubt about that.” He went ahead to say “There are no complaints, but I thought Eriksen was fairly dispossessed, I don’t think he could see a United player that came and got it off him, it’s Odegard, he just steals it- there is a little nudge, but it’s something from nothing.”
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, when asked about the disallowed goal:
He said; ” They say It was a soft foul, it’s just the consistency for me, the soft foul on Bukayo Saka from Mings against Villa was not given as a penalty. Another soft foul on Aaron Ramsdale against Villa, where we conceded a goal, and it was given as a goal, so for me it’s just the lack of consistency, as there is nothing we can do now; it’s too late, Just be consistent”.
I personally feel these referees and officials generally, should be granted pre, and post match interviews just like every player and coach, which in return brings more closure and clarity in football, thereby providing us with answers for their poor performances as far as officiating is concerned.
With a player or coach being suspended for offences on and off the pitch, referee’s should not be exempted from such discipline.
All we want to see is the game we love being refereed properly, in the best and least unjust manner, where we feel ultimately justified win or lose, knowing fully well that every game is really and truly officiated in the best possible manner.