Referees boss Howard Webb has provided insight into the reaction from Simon Hooper towards his controversial decision during Manchester City against Tottenham.
With the scoreline poised at 3-3, Manchester City were presented with a late opportunity to close down on the Tottenham goal, with Erling Haaland having presented the ball over the top of the Spurs defence into the path of Jack Grealish having originally been fouled in the process.
Whilst referee Simon Hooper appeared to originally indicate for an advantage in play, the match official opted to pull play back for the free-kick, much to the dismay and confusion of all those concerned at Manchester City.
Now, speaking as part of the monthly ‘Match Officials: Mic’d Up’ show with Sky Sports, PGMOL boss Howard Webb has offered insight into Simon Hooper’s officiating mistake, admitting that the 41-year-old is often good at identifying possible advantages in play.
“It is an officiating mistake and you’re right, the VAR has no part to play in this. And we’ve not seen this type of situation on this show before because it doesn’t happen that often. And of course, we’re always looking as officials to have that positive influence on the game by trying to identify occasions when we can allow the game to play through and have an advantage.
Howard Webb continued, “And Simon Hooper the referee in this situation is normally good at identifying those things. On this particular occasion he sees a pretty strong, reckless, foul challenge by Emerson Royal on Haaland and it’s in midfield and the ball comes backwards.
“He does the hard work, he just hesitates a moment to just see if an advantage is possible but he recognises in his mind thinking it through that it was a strong challenge, it was reckless, he is going to have to caution.
“At ground level, it’s not quite so easy to see the way that things are playing out as it is from an elevated view, and he decides to penalise just at the moment that the ball’s about to go, he blows the whistle, and then realises that a wonderful advantage was available.”
Offering insight into how Hooper himself reacted to the decision to not allow the advantage in play for Jack Grealish and Manchester City, Webb revealed the match official was left ‘devastated’ by his mistake but did not mean to indicate an advantage at the time.
“For sure, he was devastated. He refereed the game really well for 93 minutes, but he knows that this is going to be the only talking point, really close to the end of the game. I understand the disappointment that Manchester City felt on this one because it would’ve been a wonderful advantage.
“He just formed the opinion to blow just at the wrong time. It looked like he was ready to play advantage… You never actually heard him shout advantage, and I asked him about the arm, he said he didn’t even realise he was doing it at the moment.
Webb closed, “Disappointing for Simon, he would’ve loved to have played advantage there. I said to him afterwards just hold your hands up, it’s difficult to be annoyed or kind of a remorseful man, just show your disappointment in the moment because he was certainly feeling that at the time. And we took the learning from it and hopefully he’ll not do it again.”
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