VAR turned down what Sue Smith referred to as the ‘most obvious penalty ever’ in Chelsea versus West Ham, that would have changed the game for the Blues.
Not for the first time and likely not for the last, VAR is at the centre of controversy. It was active in two late moments in Chelsea’s Premier League visit to West Ham, both which could’ve changed the game.
Tomas Soucek scored what the Hammers thought was a winner, only for Declan Rice to be adjudged – fairly – to be offside.
With the score remaining at 1-1, minutes from the end, Chelsea thought they had a penalty. Indeed, the ball struck Soucek’s outstretched on path to the net.
Despite the ball hitting the arm in the penalty area, no foul was given. Sky Sports pundit Smith was baffled as to how it wasn’t given as a penalty.
“I’m absolutely bemused, I have no idea why this wasn’t given as a penalty. The only thing I can think of, as the player’s falling to the ground then if the ball strikes him it’s because he’s putting his hand down to support himself,” she said on Sky Sports.
“But Tomas Soucek there, [Conor] Gallagher picks the ball up, he has the shot, Soucek is falling but as he’s falling blatantly puts his hand out to stop the ball.
“It’s the most obvious penalty that you will ever see. I cannot believe that this wasn’t given as a penalty. Straight away the referee said no, it was checked by VAR and game on – really surprised that wasn’t given as a penalty.”
For a system that was put in place to eradicate human error, VAR is at the centre of controversy a little bit too often. Indeed, it’s fair that, when the ball is travelling at speed, the referee might not see it.
However, for an incident that looks to be a clear infringement, surely it should be rectifying the decision.
The goal for Chelsea would have changed the game, too. There were only two minutes of normal time left, and a goal there would have likely won it for the Blues.
As such, it seems fair that they would be angered by the decision.