Speaking exclusively to CaughtOffside, former Premier League referee Mark Halsey made it clear that he profusely disagreed with the game-changing penalty decision during Liverpool’s tie with Brighton.
Halsey, who officiated in the Premier League for 14 years after vast experience in the Football League, believes that Andy Robertson’s contact with Danny Welbeck was ‘marginal’.
Stuart Attwell awarded a spot-kick after viewing the incident on the pitch-side monitor, Kevin Friend was the man in charge of the Video Assistant Referee at Stockley Park.
Halsey stressed the fact that VAR should only be intervening for ‘clear and obvious errors’, not for incidents like this which were fairly deemed ‘subjective’.
Halsey urged officials to remember that the beautiful game is a ‘contact sport’, incidents like this that are being ‘forensically’ looked at are ruining fixtures and unfairly costing sides points.
Here’s what Halsey had to say on the harsh decision to award a penalty:
“As soon as VAR recommended the review, you knew straight away that the decision would be changed, we’ve seen that a lot this season.”
“If you look at that incident, was that a clear and obvious error for VAR to get involved and recommend the review?”
“Remember it’s a contact sport, not every bit of contact means to say it’s a free-kick or in this case a penalty. It was marginal contact.”
Halsey also referenced David Coote’s decision last week to overturn a penalty call, sparking the road to heartbreak for West Brom against Manchester United:
“If we look at last week, West Bromwich Albion were denied a penalty on a review, the referee (David Coote) reviewed it and went back on his original decision, he was wrong to go back on his original decision.”
“Once again, that was not a clear and obvious error, that was a penalty and VAR should not have reviewed it.”
“The problem I have is that referees are already under pressure thinking they’ve made a mistake and I have to wonder if they’re being told that they have to change their decision from Stockley Park and not actually reviewing the incident.”
“It happens so quickly with Stuart Attwell today.”
Halsey also believes that the use of slow-motion technology is proving to be problematic:
“We’ve got to stop watching incidents in slow-motion, everything looks worse in slow-motion, it’s got to be done in real time.”
“I don’t think anybody would’ve complained with that incident, for me it’s not a clear and obvious error. VAR should not have recommenced the review.”
“Just like the West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa penalties last week, they were both penalties, why were they reviewed? They were not clear and obvious errors.”
Finally, Halsey admitted that Premier League match officials need more ‘education and training’ and that everything shouldn’t be ‘forensically’ looked at:
“There still needs to be more training and education given to our officials on the implementation of VAR.”
“We don’t want everything forensically looked at – it’s got to be a clear and obvious error – and we’re seeing penalties given when it’s not a clear and obvious error by the match referee.”
“It’s subjective, some people will say yes and some people will say no in regards to the penalty incident between Robertson and Welbeck, if that’s the case it’s not a clear and obvious error.”
Halsey raised a worrying point in regards to the pressure that officials face in moments like this, Attwell made his decision very quickly this afternoon, which is something that shouldn’t become a trend.
Jurgen Klopp’s side lost out on two points as a result of this call, that’s by no means a reflection of Brighton’s performance – with their free-flowing play they certainly deserved a share of the spoils but perhaps not via this manner.