The Liverpool legend branded VAR as the ‘technology from hell for referees’ and has demanded the system be manned by ex-professionals.
The incident and the backlash
In the post-match presentation of the Arsenal-Newcastle match, Mikel described the VAR decisions as ’embarrassing’ and a ‘disgrace’. VAR had allowed the only goal of the match, scored by Anthony Gordon, to stand after three separate VAR checks.
Later on, Arsenal came out in support of their manager. The club also released a statement the next day in which they affirmed the game involved ‘unacceptable refereeing and VAR errors’.
This invited quite some criticism from pundits and football fans. Most notably Gary Neville who felt that Arteta and Arsenal’s words were ‘dangerous’. He insisted both Arsenal and their head coach ‘should behave better in these circumstances’. But Souness, a former manager himself, has shared his sympathies with Arteta and co.
Souness has sympathy with Arteta
In his Daily Mail column, Souness wrote: “I have to say I had sympathy with Mikel Arteta over his reaction to a flagrantly poor refereeing decision last weekend. I’ve been in his shoes. The conclusion that Anthony Gordon’s goal for Newcastle should stand was plainly wrong to anyone with an ounce of knowledge of the game.”
He justified Arteta’s rant by saying: “And of course, Mikel was having to come to terms with the fact that those officials were equipped with the most sophisticated video technology known to man.”
Souness then went on about one decision in particular- the foul on William Saliba. He claimed that it was a clear foul and anyone who has actually played football would notice it.
He further suggested: “How many times do we have to say that this refereeing shambles must be resolved by getting ex-players in, to help?”
“The uncomfortable truth is that VAR has turned out to be the technology from hell for these referees. It was supposed to make their life more comfortable, with fewer mistakes. It’s turned out to be the exact opposite,” he added.
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