Fulham 0-0 West Ham: VAR is not ruining football, bad referees are
VAR is again being targeted by angry football fans after Tomas Soucek's red card in West Ham's 0-0 draw at Fulham, but is it not the technology's fault that another scandalous decision has grabbed the headlines in the Premier League. It is the two inept referees administering it who are at fault, writes Pete Hall.
Referee Mike Dean (L) sends West Ham United's Czech midfielder Tomas Soucek (C) off during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and West Ham United at Craven Cottage in London on February 6, 2021.
Published 06/02/2021 at 21:06 GMT | Updated 06/02/2021 at 22:41 GMT
VAR is like the Jacob Rees-Mogg of the footballing world. Not everyone wanted it in the first place, now in action pretty much everyone hates it, and when it makes a noise collective groans can be heard around the entire country.
But while Tomas Soucek's red card at Craven Cottage for what appeared to be nothing more than moving his arm above his head has again led to an army of angry villagers knocking down VAR's door, the angry mob have picked the wrong target to express their anger to, as it is instead human error that is to blame for another unfathomable red card in the Premier League.
Yes, Soucek would not have been sent off if VAR did not exist. Soucek's arm brushing the face of Aleksandar Mitrovic would never be seen or heard again. But no matter how many replays you see of the incident Soucek's connection with Mitrovic is not a red card.
Two men, and two men alone are to blame. Lee Mason, sat in Stockley Park, asked on-field referee Mike Dean to have another look, both of whom have been so bad this season a Premier League team have asked the authorities that the pair be kept off their matches
Mason therefore believed that there was something in it. It has later been revealed that Mason asked Dean to have another look because of Soucek's "clenched fist". Oh no, we must alert the church elders!
The farce was not finished there with Dean, with zero reluctance of course, taking centre stage. The chairman of the Celebrity Refs Association loved nothing more than sauntering over to the pitchside monitor, at no real pace, to have another look.
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In Europe, some referees run over to preserve time. Not Dean. He then proceeded to watch replay after replay, over several minutes. If you have to watch something that many times, over and over, then you cannot be sure it is a red card, and you would have to be sure when sending someone off, given the suspension that will follow for the said player.
So how Dean can then come to a conclusion that it was dangerous play from Soucek is simply astounding. Even Mitrovic told Dean it was not a red card.
What is even more remarkable is that this comes just four days after Dean sent Southampton's Jan Bednarek off at Old Trafford in similarly farcical fashion.
That decision was quickly rescinded by the FA in midweek, so you'd THINK Dean would therefore be bit a little more tentative in sending someone off after consulting the pitchside monitor the next time. Oh no.
It is very easy and often unfair to criticise referees, given how tough a job they do. If you haven't done it, you won't know just how tough it is to keep up with the game and make decisions in a split second.
But this is not one of those occasions. Mason and Dean concocted a red card scenario all on their own, knowing that VAR will take the blame for their failings.
The technology is not to blame for this. VAR is not to blame. If another referee is behind the screen at Stockley Park, this incident would not even get a second thought. The fact it is Mason, and then Dean, is the reason why again, for the second time in the week, our blood is boiling and worries of the beautiful game being ruined have reared their ugly heads once again.