The Premier League has earned a bit of a bad reputation for its inconsistent refereeing standards this season, with a brand-new example coming in the Tottenham Hotspur–Brighton clash at the weekend.
Despite being widely recognized as ‘the best football league in the world’, the standard of officiating still seems severely backdated to this date. Even after experienced retired official Howard Webb took over as the head of the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Board), things have not changed at all.
Premier League’s VAR errors in 2022/23 season
All through the 2022/23 season, controversies around dodgy refereeing calls have unnecessarily hogged the spotlight. One of the first prominent ones happened in Manchester United’s 3-1 win over Arsenal at Old Trafford in September.
In that game, Arsenal had actually taken the lead through Gabriel Martinelli – only for the goal to be disallowed because Martin Odegaard was accused of fouling Christian Eriksen in the build-up. It seemed like a massive refereeing mistake because there did not seem any case of a foul – with United going to win the game 3-1 afterward.
Another prominent error happened during newly promoted Nottingham Forest’s thrilling 2-2 draw against Brentford in November. With Forest leading 1-0 in the game, Brentford got a lucky penalty after Yoanne Wissa seemed to run straight into Dean Henderson’s arm in the box – but the referee apprehended Henderson for fouling him and gave Brentford an undeserved penalty.
However, the most shocking VAR error came in Arsenal’s 1-1 draw against Brentford in February. The Gunners appeared to have had the match won after taking the lead before the visitors scored a scrappy equalizer.
When the incident was reviewed on VAR, it was clear to the viewers that a Brentford player was clearly offside in the build-up. However, the referees refused to see it and gave the goal – robbing the Gunners of a win.
This sparked furious reactions from Arsenal and the fans. Things escalated after it was discovered that the VAR official, Lee Mason, simply ‘forgot’ to draw the lines for offside and decided to give Brentford the goal. He subsequently left the PGMOL, with the refereeing board forced to apologize to the Gunners for that error.
VAR under fire for Tottenham-Brighton error
The entertaining game between Tottenham and Brighton on Saturday saw the Lilywhites scrape through a 2-1 win in a controversial, heated encounter. A lot of drama happened both on the pitch and in the touchline too, with head coaches Roberto de Zerbi and Cristian Stellini, both being sent off for tussling on the touchline.
After Harry Kane scored Spurs decisive’ second goal, Brighton pushed for an equalizer and appeared to have a big chance to get that. Late in the game, Brighton forward Kaoru Mitoma looked to be clearly impeded in the box by Spurs midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
The Seagulls were sure that was a penalty, but neither referee Stuart Atwell nor the VAR team could spot it in the replays. This was even though video evidence showed that Hojbjerg had indeed fouled the Brighton winger.
Fans were absolutely infuriated at how Brighton were robbed of a clear penalty and the poor standards of VAR laid bare once again. The PGMOl head Howard Webb has reportedly admitted the referee’s mistakes in this and apologized to the Seagulls for the same.
Those apologies will neither get Brighton any points nor stop their top-4 dreams from effectively being ended. If not anything else, these awful VAR errors show that the PGMOL has to educate their referees and VAR teams better to pay more attention during matches and ensure such amateurish errors can’t continuously damage the reputation of the Premier League.
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