This is one of the countless stories that the VAR (video assistant referee) has brought to football since its introduction six years ago.
The controversies related to the system that aims to avoid “clear and obvious” mistakes in the sport accumulate every week, mainly in the marking (or unmarking) of offsides and penalties.
The most recent news that jumped out at the VAR came from the mouth of Mike Dean, 55, who worked for the English federation until last season.
It is the first time that, as far as I know, a referee acting as a VAR has gone public to, without mincing words, say that he deliberately failed to warn his fieldmate about an error that he, the assistant referee, identified on your monitors.
The match was Chelsea x Tottenham, on August 14 last year, London classic for the second round of the 2022/2023 English Championship, with the Blues in charge. Who refereed on the field was Anthony Taylor, 44, and Dean was the VAR.
In the second-half stoppage time, Tottenham, with a 2-1 disadvantage at Chelsea, pressed on. Corner and that push-push in the area. Protagonism for Argentine defender Romero, from the visiting team, giving a tremendous pull on the hair of Spaniard Cucurella, who collapsed, screaming.
Dean, in the VAR room, saw the scandalous foul, but preferred to remain silent and not warn Taylor, who did not pay attention to the irregularity and scored a new corner.
“I missed that stupid hair pulling,” he told the Up Front podcast. “If I could go back in time, what would I do? Would I send Anthony [Taylor] for the check.”
In each competition stadium where the VAR is present, next to the pitch there is a device in which the field referee checks plays after the video referee recommends them – generally, the marking (or not marking) is changed after the conference.
Dean justified his attitude as a way of, in an extremely hard and tight game, to preserve his professional colleague, with whom he also had a friendly relationship, from an extra moment of tension.
“He had already warned the two coaches [Thomas Tuchel, do Chelsea, e Antonio Conte, do Tottenham], it was being a hellish game, difficult from beginning to end. After [da partida] I said to Anthony, ‘I didn’t want to send you to the prefect after what happened in the game’.”
Dean continued: “I didn’t want to send him because he’s a comrade as well as a referee and I didn’t want him to suffer any more. He’s big and bald and ugly enough to know that if he’s going to the monitor it would be for some reason. reason. If someone pulls your hair, it’s a piece of cake [decidir o que fazer]. It was a very bad decision of mine.”
The rule says that the VAR can intervene, to verify the play, only in goal, penalty, expulsion and identity error (warning given to the wrong player). It is there to help the field official correct mistakes exclusively in these situations.
In the aforementioned case, Dean should have given Taylor the option to decide whether Romero’s act was red cardable. Regardless of that, knowing what happened, the field referee would call a foul on Chelsea.
Without the check, it didn’t happen. The ball remained with Tottenham and, on the next move, Harry Kane headed in to level the game, igniting even more tempers at Stamford Bridge. Goal validated, Taylor, in the midst of chaos, ended the confrontation.
“It was a capital mistake,” Dean acknowledged. “If they [Tottenham] had not done [o gol]it wouldn’t have been a big problem.”
As a result of his decision, he ended up in the fridge, not being used for two months after Premier League authorities reviewed his performance in that particular pitch.
“I asked for time out myself,” said Dean, adding that, upon being reinstated, he began to fear for his performance in the game in which he was scheduled as VAR. “I was paralyzed in the chair, hoping nothing would happen.”
He retired at the end of the season having amassed over 550 matches as a referee in Europe’s elite.
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