Home » Former referee jumps to defend Michael Oliver for his poor officiating during Tottenham vs Arsenal

Former referee jumps to defend Michael Oliver for his poor officiating during Tottenham vs Arsenal

By Mehdi Gokal -

In the recent North London derby, referee Michael Oliver overlooked a blatant penalty kick following Declan Rice’s foul on Ben Davies.

Around the 85th minute mark, with Spurs trailing 1-3, Davies was brought down after Rice attempted to kick through him in pursuit of the ball. However, Rice missed the ball entirely, striking Davies in the process.

Misinterpreting the scenario, Oliver initially dismissed Tottenham’s appeal. Yet, prompted by his colleagues in the VAR room, the English referee opted to take a glance at the monitor.

Upon review, it became apparent that Rice’s challenge, striking Davies on the back of the leg, warranted a penalty, prompting Oliver to signal for it.

Howard Webb, head of the PGMOL acknowledged Michael Oliver’s error, expressing confidence that Oliver himself would be disappointed with the oversight.

Webb, a controversial referee himself during his time, commended Oliver’s stature as one of the top referees.

However, he recognised that even the most accomplished referees can misinterpret situations amid the intensity of the game.

Webb underscored the pivotal role of VAR in swiftly rectifying such errors and preventing potential controversies. He elaborates on the VAR protocol, emphasizing the significance of timely intervention to keep fairness on the field.

He sais (quotes via Standard):

“I know Michael [Oliver] will be really disappointed.

“He had a really good game. He’s one of our top referees, he’s one of the top referees in the world. He’s been selected for the Euros in Germany this summer, together with seven other English officials, and he had a really, really good game in the way he managed it.

“But I know you’ll be disappointed he misread that in the moment and we all can misread things in the moment. I did that many times myself. But thankfully we’ve got VAR that can look at these situations very quickly. You’ll hear Jarred Gillett at the VAR check it, stop the game in a neutral zone so nothing else can happen.

“For example, we don’t want a goal scored at the other end and then having to take that away as well. Stop the game as soon as possible. Michael went to the screen, looked at it, quickly saw the error and gave a penalty. And as you say, without VAR this would have stayed as a non-awarded penalty. It would have been hugely controversial. So a really good use of the VAR facility here.”

Michael Oliver’s name was notably absent as the primary referee for any fixture in the upcoming match week; instead, he will be on VAR duty on Saturday.

However, this decision is not a consequence of his mistake but rather because the English referee will be officiating the UEFA Conference League semi-final match between Club Brugge and Fiorentina on Thursday, just two days prior.

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