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Referees' chief defends VAR decision in Liverpool-Manchester City draw

Posted : 20 March 2024

Howard Webb, the head of referees, has defended the decision of the video assistant referee (VAR) not to intervene in the recent 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Manchester City, stating that the on-field referee's call regarding a potential penalty was correct.


City's Jeremy Doku appeared to catch Alexis Mac Allister with a high boot in the penalty area during the final moments of the match. However, referee Michael Oliver did not award a penalty, a decision that was upheld by VAR Stuart Attwell.


Acknowledging the controversy surrounding the incident, Webb emphasized the subjective nature of the challenge and the differing opinions it has generated. He explained that VAR's decision-making process hinges on whether a situation meets the criteria for a clear-and-obvious error, and in this case, the referees deemed it too subjective to warrant intervention.


Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Mac Allister believed that the challenge merited a penalty for their team, but Webb reiterated that VAR's role is to refrain from interference unless a clear and obvious error is identified. He highlighted the feedback received from stakeholders within the game, suggesting that the challenge in question fell into a subjective gray area, leading VAR to opt for non-intervention.


Reflecting on previous incidents involving Liverpool and VAR, Webb noted discrepancies in decision-making but reiterated the commitment of the referees' governing body, PGMOL, to address errors and uphold the integrity of officiating in the Premier League. Despite differing opinions and contentious moments, Webb affirmed VAR's adherence to a high threshold for intervention to maintain consistency and fairness in match officiation.


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