Former Premier League referee, Mark Clattenburg has stirred the debate about Video Assistant Referee (VAR) by insisting that West Ham’s opening goal in their 2-0 away victory against Arsenal had to stand.
The controversial decision, which saw Tomas Soucek finding the net in the 13th minute, was eventually awarded by referee Michael Oliver after a prolonged VAR check.
The crux of the matter lies in the inconclusive evidence regarding whether the ball had crossed the line before Jarrod Bowen delivered the crucial cross leading to Soucek’s goal.
Clattenburg, speaking on Amazon Prime, argued that introducing technology, such as a chip in the ball, would provide much-needed clarity in situations where visual evidence falls short.
Despite various TV replays, the controversy persisted as none could definitively prove whether the ball had gone out. Clattenburg emphasised that the initial on-field decision had to stand due to the lack of conclusive evidence, further noting that the incident was complicated by the ball being obscured by Bowen’s thigh.
“There’s no other decision the officials can give. The on-field decision is a goal. We cannot be 100 per cent certain that the ball has gone out. As the ball has to be clearly over the line, there’s no conclusive evidence,” remarked Clattenburg during the analysis.
“The other point of reference they need is the ball, the ball is being blocked by Bowen’s thigh. Having cameras above, just have a chip in the ball.”
This incident is reminiscent of a similar situation involving Arsenal earlier in the season, with a goal being awarded to Newcastle in November amid uncertainty over the ball crossing the line.
While West Ham put on a spirited first-half performance at Emirates Stadium, limiting Arsenal’s threat, they secured their victory with a header from former Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. Despite a late penalty opportunity for the visitors to increase their lead, David Raya ensured the scoreline remained 2-0 with a brilliant save to deny Said Benrahma..
The defeat means Arsenal are now two points behind league leaders Liverpool and three points ahead of Manchester City. Mikel Arteta will be eager for his team to rebound from the setback when they face Fulham at Craven Cottage on Sunday.