The clash between Manchester United and Wolves in the Premier League recently took centre stage due to a contentious penalty decision. In an unprecedented move, Premier League officials referee Simon Hooper and his video assistant Michael Salisbury have been dropped from this weekend’s fixtures.
This is the second time Salisbury has been stood down this year. In April, he decided not to award Brighton a penalty in their controversial 2-1 defeat to Tottenham.
Wolverhampton Wanderers head coach Gary O’Neil was left incensed after United goalkeeper André Onana clattered into Sasa Kalajdzic in the penalty area while attempting to reach a cross deep into stoppage time.
On-field referee Hooper did not award a penalty, and the decision was not overturned by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
This annoyed the new Wolves manager Gary O’Neil, who was shown a yellow card
Raphael Varane headed home Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s cross in the 76th minute. and the match ended in defeat for Wolves.
The head of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), Howard Webb, has reportedly been in touch with Wolves to apologise. Webb spoke before the season about his desire to drive up standards and reduce high-profile mistakes but on the first weekend of the new campaign, more blunders have been made.
Speaking to Sky Sports after Monday’s defeat, O’Neil said he thought United’s debutant keeper Onana was trying to “take Kalajdzic’s head off”.
Gary O’Neil claimed he had received an apology from referees’ boss Jon Moss. ”Having just spoken to Jon Moss, fair enough he came straight out and said it was a blatant penalty and it should have been given,” O’Neil said.
The decision to drop the officials has elicited mixed reactions from various stakeholders. Fans and analysts have praised the Premier League’s swift response in acknowledging the gravity of the situation.
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Critics of the move argue that mistakes are a part of the game and that singling out officials might lead to undue pressure on referees, potentially affecting their performance in future matches.
The two officials will have to wait and see when they are allowed to referee matches again.