Ex-Premier League referee slams Craig Pawson after ‘big problem’ in Chelsea draw

On Saturday night, Premier League referee Craig Pawson found himself embroiled in a controversy following the VAR ruling that disqualified Chelsea’s late victory over Aston Villa.

Ex-Premier League referee slams Craig Pawson after 'big problem' in Chelsea draw

Chelsea players protest to referee Craig Pawson during the draw with Aston Villa (Image: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Craig Pawson received criticism from former Premier League referee Mark Halsey for his officiating during Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Aston Villa over the weekend.

The referee denied the Blues a late winner after VAR pointed out a foul that preceded Axel Disasi’s goal. Thanks to a spectacular solo effort by playmaker Morgan Rogers and an own goal by Marc Cucurella, Villa led 2-0 at halftime and looked ready to hammer Chelsea.

But Mauricio Pochettino’s passionate halftime address appeared to ignite the Blues, as Noni Madueke cut the deficit in the 62nd minute. With nine minutes to go, Conor Gallagher equalized with a brilliant shot into the top corner, giving Chelsea hope that they had won it.

Disasi’s close-range header past replacement goalkeeper Robin Olsen after a cross from Benoit Badiashile caused the Blues team to erupt in celebration. Their happiness was short-lived, though, as Pawson was called upon to examine a collision between Diego Carlos and Badiashile, the latter of whom was accused of pushing the defender in the back in order to gain the upper hand in a ball battle.

Pochettino and his group were incensed by the decision, and Pawson was blamed by former referee Halsey for not giving Villa a free kick at first. “I was baffled why VAR got involved because it wasn’t a clear and obvious error,” he said in an interview with The Sun.

“Play was allowed to continue by referee Craig Pawson, who had a clear view of the incident and was staring at both players. Should Pawson have believed that Benoit Badiashile had fouled Diego Carlos, then why did he not immediately award a free kick?

“I thought it was a foul, but Pawson needed to call it right away so there wouldn’t have been a big deal later. This incident, in my opinion, is a prime example of technology being used to re-officiate a game, which is not the intended purpose of video assistant refereeing.

“Pawson decided against the on-field review after VAR official Chris Kavanagh made the recommendation. I’ve been watching Pawson for a while, and he seems to rely on VAR for backup and not make the major decisions.

“Although we got the right decision, the process of how we got there is not how we should be operating VAR in the Premier League.”


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