'It was a clear red': Former referee Chris Foy admits VAR blunder

‘It’s human error, it was a clear red’: Former Premier League referee Chris Foy admits VAR blundered badly over Giovani Lo Celso stamp

  • Former referee Chris Foy admits Stockley Park blundered badly on Saturday
  • Giovani Lo Celso escaped a red card for a stamp on Chelsea’s Cesar Azpilicueta
  • Later in the day, it appeared Leicester could have been awarded two penalties 

Former Premier League referee Chris Foy admitted Stockley Park blundered badly on Saturday on another day of VAR farce. 

Giovani Lo Celso somehow escaped a red card for a shocking stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta during Chelsea’s 2-1 win against Tottenham, a decision which left Frank Lampard fuming and Mail on Sunday columnist Foy acknowledged a ‘misjudgement’ had been made. 

‘It was a clear red, it’s as simple as that,’ said Foy. 

Giovani Lo Celso avoided a red card despite stamping on Cesar Azpilicueta’s leg on Saturday 

VAR later admitted the challenge was worthy of a sending off despite its initial decision 

Neither referee Michael Oliver nor VAR David Coote had deemed Lo Celso’s horror challenge worthy of punishment, the argument from the VAR being that the Tottenham midfielder had nowhere else to put his foot. 

Not only was there criticism of that view from Foy but also dismay that Oliver had not been persuaded to use the pitchside monitor for a second look. 

‘I can only assume that David thought Lo Celso had no other place to put his foot,’ said Foy. ‘In that case he would not have advised Michael Oliver to go to the screen because it was not an act of serious foul play. That was a misjudgement by David Coote. 

‘The referee can still go to the screen but remember that he hadn’t even given a foul, he’d given a throw-in. So, when David Coote tells him it’s not serious foul play, Michael wouldn’t have felt compelled to take another look. In hindsight, he should have gone to have a look. Basically it’s human error. It was a clear red.’ 

David Coote was in the booth at Stockley Park for Chelsea v Spurs and Man City v Leicester

Foy was not alone in railing against an error which even compelled that Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the Premier League referees’ body, to agree their team had got wrong. 

Another former Premier League referee, Keith Hackett, said witheringly that PGMOL need to have another look at football’s laws. He tweeted: ‘Come on David Coote VAR. That is a red card every day. It’s not a difficult decision.’ 

Former Spurs striker Garth Crooks reckons that referees are now ‘bottling’ the big decisions. The BBC pundit said: ‘We’re getting to a stage now where VAR is sucking the life out of the game. The man in charge of the game is Michael Oliver, he needs to go and look at the replay. 

‘Referees have abdicated their responsibility. They are bottling it. Refs in this country are losing their nerve.’ 

There was more drama later on as Kevin De Bruyne looked to have handled the ball in the box

Sky TV pundit and former England playmaker Matt Le Tissier said: ‘It’s an absolute joke. He’s stamped on him with no intention of playing the ball. 

‘He could quite easily have snapped his shin. That’s why VAR was brought in and that’s absolutely shocking. No excuse, no defence for that whatsoever.’ 

For Lampard, it was the second time in five days that he felt he had been on the rough end of VAR decisions. On Monday, he was adamant Harry Maguire should have been dismissed for a kick at Michy Batshuayi during Chelsea’s 2-0 loss to Manchester United. 

‘I’m sorry but two VARs in two games — it’s always harder when you lose and people think you’re just shouting about it,’ said the Chelsea boss. ‘But maybe you need to shout because that’s not good enough.’ 

Lo Celso will not face retrospective action for the challenge despite the admission of the error. Under PGMOL rules, retrospective disciplinary action is reserved for incidents ‘not captured by the match officials or VAR’. 

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