The Premier League’s head of VAR implementation Neil Swarbrick has denied claims that video technology should have been used to give Manchester City a penalty against Tottenham.
Midfielder Rodri was dragged down in the box by Spurs’s Erik Lamela during the 2-2 draw at the Etihad, but speaking about the incident, Swarbrick denied that VAR had made the wrong decision:
“The arm was around the top of the body fractionally. If you look at that in slow motion multiple times, it’s exaggerated. We look at it in real-time, that’s how we referee games and that’s how we use VAR.”
“The arm was around the top of the body, yet Rodri fell forward. He didn’t fall backwards like he was pulled, he fell forward, so he felt contact, can he win the header? No, he can’t, so he’s gone down looking for a penalty.”
“That’s how the referee saw the incident and VAR looked at the replays and what Michael said was exactly that, so it’s ‘check’ complete. It’s been left alone for the referee to decide.”
City fans on Twitter were not happy with Swarbrick’s remarks with many believing it was a blatant penalty:
If you ever wanted evidence that the refs in the Premier League don’t have a clue about football, this is it. Such a joke.
— James (@MrJDHunt) 20 August 2019
Just admit your mistake and correct it against the future incidents.
— Kabir (@Kabir91671832) 21 August 2019
That’s a whole lot of rubbish
— Mow (@Momaverick83) 20 August 2019
With laughable comments like that what is the point of VAR
— Michael watts (@mikewatts0610) 21 August 2019
Swarbrick has given the most ridiculous explaination to this. They claim Rodri should have fallen backwards and was looking for a penalty! Why wasn’t Rodri booked for diving then? I thought VAR was supposed to remove “cheating” from the game. #refgaffcover
— Invisible Man Fans (@imf_mcfc) 21 August 2019
We as @ManCityES fans knew that against @SpursOfficial ,VAR was to drag us down. What's possible this season is goal difference. When we win, we should be winning with a huge margin against 'weak' teams.
— Born Mash Mwaura (@born_mash) 21 August 2019
This is what happens when idiots are left in charge of a monitor.
— Padre Mary Francis (@padre_mary) 21 August 2019
Wrestled to the ground meanwhile the defender is pushing lamela into Laporte some more but exaggerated, sure diving for a header and giving 2 people a piggy back you’re not Gona jump too high
— Danny Shimmin (@DannyShimmin1) 20 August 2019
Looking forward to replaying this at the weekend when Salah is softly nudged to the floor in the same position by an Arsenal defender and VAR gives a penalty
— Woken Gannon (@NeilGannon2) 21 August 2019
One of the big issues with VAR is what constitutes a clear and obvious error. Swarbrick seems to think that the foul on Rodri was not a clear cut mistake, and within the Premier League’s use of VAR that requires a high threshold, such decisions will not be changed.
The issue here will be one of consistency. City supporters will be justifiably angry if VAR gives a similar penalty in the future during another match.