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“This was an error” – PGMOL chief Howard Webb provides damning verdict on Manchester City incident as VAR transcript revealed



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PGMOL chief refereeing officer Howard Webb has admitted to an error during Manchester City’s 5-1 win over Fulham on Saturday afternoon.

While the outcome of the contest may have been a formality and the result points towards a one-sided affair, the first-half could have been very different had a decision been made to disallow Manchester City a second goal of the match.

With the contest finely posed at 1-1 after Tim Ream cancelled out a Julian Alvarez opener, Nathan Ake leapt highest from a Manchester City corner to head home past Bernd Leno, and beyond Manuel Akanji – who was stood in an offside position.

Fulham were incensed at the decision from the team of match officials on the day to disallow the City goal, as they felt the Swiss international defender was interfering with the attacking phase of play by moving towards the ball and while in the line of Leno’s sight from an offside position.

Now, as part of the Premier League’s new monthly series looking back on major officiating decisions and the behind-the-scenes of VAR, the incident at the Etihad Stadium has been detailed by PGMOL chief refereeing officer Howard Webb.

As part of the discussion broadcast on Sky Sports and TNT Sports, as well as the Premier League’s social media channels, the full transcript involving match referee Michael Oliver and VAR Tony Harrington has been revealed, along with the voices from assistant referees and assistant video assistant referees on the day.

Full transcript as per ‘Match Officials: Mic’d Up’

VAR, Tony Harrington: “Possible offside.”

AR1, Assistant Referee 1: “Right, Akanji, Akanji, line of vision. Akanji is clear line of vision. He makes a movement away from the ball. And he’s in the goal area.”

VAR, Harrington: “The header’s there.”

REF, Michael Oliver: “How far out is he?”

VAR, Harrington: “So it’s number six.”

REF, Oliver: “He definitely moves left side of the goalkeeper.”

AVAR, Adam Nunn: “No on-field decision made yet. Just play it through as I’m already looking at it. So, just while they’re talking, he does make a full length save…”

AR1, Assistant Referee 1: “Right, if you’re happy he steps away then I’m happy it’s a goal.”

VAR, Harrington: “Right, so show me from the header. I just want to confirm he’s definitely offside position.”

AVAR, Nunn: “Confirming you’re giving a goal, Oli, yeah?”

REF, Oliver: “Yeah.”

VAR, Harrington: “Checking the goal, checking the goal. Right, just show me the wide-out, make sure there’s no other defenders anywhere else. No, so he’s definitely in an offside position.”

“Has he made an obvious action to impact on the ability of the goalkeeper? He’s moving out of the way but the leg comes out.”

RO, Replay Operator: “I’ve got another angle coming here.”

VAR, Harrington: “Show me that one again?”

AVAR, Nunn: “In my opinion, he makes a full length save. For me, it’s subjective, there’s potential impact on the keeper, but is it clearly impacting the keeper? Does he clearly impact his ability?”

VAR, Harrington: “So you’re happy that that’s getting out of the way of the ball, as opposed to an attempt to kick the ball?”

AVAR, Nunn: “Yeah, absolutely. And I think the keeper sees the ball the whole way.”

VAR, Harrington: “So, the keeper sees it, it makes no difference, so we’re happy to check complete?”

AVAR, Nunn: “I’m personally happy that it’s check complete.”

VAR, Harrington: “OK, check complete, check complete.”

PGMOL Chief Refereeing Officer, Howard Webb’s verdict

Speaking exclusively to ‘Match Officials: Mic’d Up’, Howard Webb has admitted, “From the outset, I want to say that I think this should have been disallowed, this goal. It certainly appears that (Manuel) Akanji has an impact on Bernd Leno, the goalkeeper who seems to hesitate.

“The officials on the field gave the goal, they didn’t see an obvious action that impacted Leno’s ability to play the ball. They see Akanji moving slightly away from the ball to let it past him, there’s a flick out from the foot but that’s after the ball has passed.

“When the VAR and the AVAR checked that situation, they saw that same retraction away from the ball, they didn’t feel that that was clearly impactful on Leno’s ability to play the ball but when you see it you can see that hesitation by the goalkeeper, whose wait and see if the ball makes contact with Akanji which would have deflected the ball.

“So we think it’s a clear situation of offside, unfortunately it wasn’t identified on the day, and of course the learning from this one will be shared amongst all of our group because we’re always looking to do better each and every week, and this was an error.”

Howard Webb continued, “On this one, the VAR decided to check complete it because there was no clear and obvious error. But you can see that Bernd Leno is impacted when he has to hesitate a little to see if the ball does hit Akanji.”