Former Premier League referee questions decisions that have cost Sunderland this season

Written by on 6th March 2023

Sunderland’s season has been hampered by poor refereeing decisions with Keith Hackett criticising standards.

Speaking on the Mackem in the Middle podcast, Keith discussed the current debate that surrounds English refereeing and the constant criticism that comes their way.

He said: “What I have seen in the last 10 years is a decline of refereeing standards. The process of a referee is to see, recognise, think and act. If you can’t see, you can’t make the right decision.”

Over recent years, football has seen an increase in technological needs to assist referees with goal line technology closely followed by VAR. The latter often the starting point of a debate.

On the topic of VAR, Hackett added: “We’ve got clear confusion as to what is a clear and obvious error. It’s interfering with the enjoyment. It’s delaying that bite of being able to cheer on a goal. A goal is scored and everyone is waiting on the outcome, even the players.”

Whilst VAR isn’t in effect for Sunderland’s Championship season, the question has been asked as to whether it should be implemented with teams facing poor decisions each week that is costing points and results.

Hackett responded to some of the key decisions that have gone against Sunderland this season:

Decision Watch

Blackburn 2-0 Sunderland – Clarke incident in build up to opening goal

Clarke appears to be fouled before Blackburn continue and score in the same phase of play.

KH: “What we see is the left foot of the defender makes very clear contact with the Sunderland player. It’s a foul. This is an easy penalty kick. If VAR had been in operation, this is one where it would have come in.”

Offside decision for second goal

Goalscorer in clear offside position but not penalised.

KH: “He has interfered with the goalkeeper and offside should have been given.”

Coventry 2-1 Sunderland – Two potential fouls and two handballs in build up to opening goal

Luke McNally commits two potential fouls before handling the ball in build up to opening goal.

KH: “The first one is a reckless challenge, very clear yellow card offence. It was bordering red.”

The full podcast with Keith Hackett discusses other talking points amongst refereeing and other decisions Sunderland have faced this season.

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