Ex-ref avoided VAR call to save colleague ‘grief’


Former referee Mike Dean has said he decided not to alert a fellow official to a missed call via the VAR system during last season’s fiery Premier League match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur because he wanted to spare him “more grief”.

Dean, who said he now regrets his decision, was the Video Assistant Referee during a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge last August when Spurs’ Cristian Romero pulled Chelsea defender Marc Cucurella to the ground by his hair at a corner.

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The foul was not given by on-field referee Anthony Taylor and Spurs scored a late equaliser during the resulting passage of play.

“I missed the stupid hair pull at Chelsea versus Tottenham which was pathetic from my point of view,” Dean told the Up Front podcast. “It’s one of them were if I had my time again, what would I do? I’d send Anthony to the screen.

“I said to Anthony afterwards: ‘I just didn’t want to send you to the screen after what has gone on in the game.’

“I didn’t want to send him up because he is a mate as well as a referee and I think I didn’t want to send him up because I didn’t want any more grief than he already had.”

Dean, who refereed more than 550 matches in the top flight and became a full-time VAR official last season, was taken off VAR duty for two months after acknowledging his mistake at the time of the incident.

In July the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) said Dean was stepping down from the role and leaving the referees’ body.

“That was a major error. If they don’t score from the corner it is not as big an issue,” Dean said.

“I knew full well I would be stood down the week after. I asked to take a bit of time off because it wasn’t for me.”

The former referee said the VAR role left him “dreading” matchdays.

“I used to get in the car on a Friday and was dreading Saturday. I was thinking, ‘I hope nothing happens,'” he added. “I used to be petrified sitting in the chair.”

A PGMOL spokesperson told ESPN: “VARs undergo extensive training with the focus centred entirely around effectively working with the on-field team of officials to rectify clear and obvious errors (relating to goals, penalties, red cards and mistaken identity).

“When VARs identify a clear and obvious error by the on-field team of match officials, they should intervene and recommend a review by the referee.We strongly refute any suggestion that VARs do not intervene, for whatever reason, when they have identified a clear and obvious error.”

Information from ESPN’s Dale Johnson was included in this report.


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