Following a contentious Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United, a decision has been taken to sideline referees Simon Hooper, Michael Salisbury, and Richard West from officiating any upcoming games this weekend. This decision arises from a controversial incident during the Monday match, where Wolverhampton Wanderers’ appeal for a penalty was denied in the final moments of the game.
The incident occurred during added time when Manchester United’s goalkeeper, Andre Onana, collided with Wolverhampton Wanderers’ striker, Sasa Kalajdzic, in an attempt to clear a cross. Despite the collision that left Kalajdzic on the ground, the on-field referee, Simon Hooper, did not perceive any foul play and allowed the match to continue.
The Video Assistant Referees (VAR), Michael Salisbury and Richard West, adhered to the directive of intervening solely for clear and unmistakable errors, thus refraining from intervening in this instance. The match concluded with a 1-0 victory for Manchester United, prompting frustration from Wolverhampton Wanderers over the unawarded penalty.
Gary O’Neil, the manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers, expressed dissatisfaction with the implementation of VAR in such scenarios, emphasizing it as a gray area within the sport. He additionally revealed that Jon Moss, the head of Premier League referees, personally issued an apology for the oversight. O’Neil conveyed to reporters, as quoted by Reuters, “Jon Moss acknowledged that it was an evident penalty and should have been awarded – credit to him, he apologized. But credit to Jon for publicly stating that it was a clear and obvious error – he was astonished that the on-field referee did not award it and that VAR did not intervene. Ironically, it almost exacerbated my feelings, because you are well aware you are correct. Initially, I was informed that they did not consider it a distinct and obvious error.”
This incident has sparked discussions concerning the responsibility of referees and the effectiveness of VAR in maintaining fair play. As the football community eagerly anticipates the upcoming round of matches, the aftermath of this event serves as a reminder of the pivotal role referees play in the realm of sports.