Mike Dean admitted his decision to send off Arsenal‘s Calum Chambers in their 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion on New Year’s Eve was “wrong”, according to referees’ chief Mike Riley.
With Arsenal ahead in the 88th minute at the Hawthorns, Dean awarded the hosts a penalty when Kieran Gibbs’ cross struck the hand of Chambers; Jay Rodriguez converted to earn the Baggies a share of the points.
Television replays showed the decision was harsh as the ball had hit Chambers from close range, and with his arm in a natural position – something the Video Assistant Referee system would have cleared up.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger lashed out about Dean after the game, a rant which left him with a three-match ban. And now Riley, head of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), has admitted Wenger would not be dealing with his ban had VAR been in place.
“You award the penalty because what you have seen on the pitch is the arm coming towards the ball,” Riley is quoted by the Daily Express.
“What is handball can look to you on the field of play if you get one look at it. But immediately there is evidence from another camera angle which shows actually the opposite happened. That is the safety net of the VAR.
“I think Chambers would have been overturned. The question you ask is, is it an act of deliberate handball? And the reverse angle shows him trying to bring his arm out of the way of the ball, rather than the reverse.
“I know Mike would have overturned it. He messages people, and he’s a very honest guy, and he goes, ‘I got it wrong’. He knows he did.”
VAR was used for the first time in English football on Monday night in the FA Cup third-round tie between Brighton and Hove Albion and Crystal Palace, which ended 2-1 to the hosts.
It will also be used in Arsenal’s Carabao Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Wednesday.