Chelsea vs Man City referee ‘stitched up’ by VAR as rule change called for

Former Premier League referee Keith Hackett feels as though VAR “stitched up” Anthony Taylor by deciding to award Manchester City a penalty in their 4-4 draw with Chelsea and has called on a change to the wording of the rules. Chelsea and City played out a pulsating 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge that may well go down as an instant Premier League classic.

The action-packed match saw both teams go on the offensive from the very first whistle, but the match wasn’t without its drama either. The most contentious moment came in the first half when City were awarded a penalty after VAR stood by Taylor’s decision to penalise Marc Cucurella for fouling Erling Haaland in the box.

Replays appeared to suggest both players were pulling at each other’s shirt, but VAR seemingly focused on Cucurella’s part as the ball was whipped into the box. As Taylor had pointed to the spot, VAR stuck with the on-field decision and City took the lead as Haaland slotted the spot-kick away.

Hackett believes part of the reason that decision wasn’t overturned was because the VAR official didn’t feel it was a “clear and obvious” error. But the 79-year-old wants that rule scrapped as he feels it’s stopping some decisions being rectified.

He wrote for the Telegraph: “Taylor, one of the best referees in the country, was decisive in pointing to the spot without hesitation but I think he needed another look. This is where I have a problem with the VAR.

“We don’t know what Taylor saw from his viewing angle – presumably he wasn’t in a position to see Haaland’s contact, but he did catch Cucurella’s foul. The VAR absolutely should have told Taylor that he needed a second look at what happened.

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“Had he gone over to the pitchside monitor, I believe he would not have given the penalty and instead penalised Haaland for a foul. It feels to me Taylor has been stitched up by VAR here. I wish we would scrap this ‘clear and obvious’ mantra, which I believe has made VAR confusing and contributed to the chaos and wrong decision-making in matches.

“If VARs are working along the lines of ‘clear and obvious’ it just leads to mixed messaging and it benefits nobody. Get rid of that saying and you’ll see clearer communication. The VAR needed to give Taylor the option of going over to verify his decision because there was enough evidence, based on all the other angles, that suggested Haaland had committed the first offence.

“It was a long VAR check for the penalty decision – why is that? It is because they’re checking with there’s various other potential offences other than Cucurella’s.”

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