NEIL SWARBRICK backed referee Michael Oliver over the Manchester City penalty storm — and claimed Rodri took a dive.
City boss Pep Guardiola was livid Oliver did not give a spot-kick when his £62million midfielder was wrestled to the ground by Tottenham’s Erik Lamela during their 2-2 draw at the Etihad on Saturday.
But Swarbrick, head of VAR at the Premier League’s Stockley Park base, revealed Oliver thought the City man tried to buy a penalty.
He said: “It was a coming-together of two players and it was looked at.
“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, that’s how we look at incidents with VAR.
“The arm was round the top of the body, yet Rodri fell forward. He didn’t fall backwards, as if he was pulled, he fell forward.
“He’s felt some contact. Can he win the header? No he can’t. It was ‘I’ve gone down looking for a penalty’.
“That’s how the referee read the incident.
“What Michael said to the VAR was exactly that. The VAR looked at the incident and it was ‘check complete’. It was left alone for the referee to make the decision.”
Speaking to Radio Five Live Swarbrick, who retired in 2013 after eight seasons as a top flight referee, dismissed moans from City fans about the incident.
He said: “It’s been pretty consistent over the last couple of seasons, we’ve operated with contact in penalty areas between attackers and defenders.
“We look at numerous things as match officials and referees on situations like that.
“It was a subjective call, not a factual one. We have set a high bar for interventions.
“The one thing we least wanted to happen with VAR was the referee losing power.
“We want them to go out and referee. That’s why we’ve set a high threshold.
“So far, in 20 games, we have had five reviews. That’s one in every four games, less than any other competition, because we want referees to just go out there and carry on refereeing.
“There is an insurance policy should there be a clear error made by the on-field referees. Then we will step in.”
DON’T PLAY DUMB WITH ME
Swarbrick’s backing for Oliver is unlikely to go down well at City.
And he was equally dismissive of Kevin De Bruyne’s claim that Guardiola’s players are in the dark over the new handball laws.
He said: “We went to all 20 Premier League clubs from mid-July, going through the amendments to the laws, specifically on handballs.
“We know the first team squad players were sat in the rooms and listened.”
But Swarbrick did concede VAR would be refined and “evolved” and that it might take until the middle of the next decade for the technology to be universally accepted.
Latest Football News
He added: “We’re in the infancy of this.
“When you look at rugby union and cricket, it’s taken them six or seven years to get into a comfortable place where everyone’s reasonably happy with how they’re operating with it.
“I’m sure it will be the same with football.”
This post written by Martin Lipton originally appeared on Football news - transfers, fixtures, scores, pictures | The Sun. Read the full post here.