Celtic’s Ange Postecoglou issues VAR cry – ‘people across world don’t tune in to watch people getting hurt’

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Referee Don Robertson.

Ahead of his side’s confrontation with Hearts at Tynecastle, the Australian remains exasperated over losing Yosuke Ideguchi for several weeks to a dangerous challenge from Mouhamed Niang during Saturday’s Scottish Cup win at Alloa. The follow-through in a challenge that resulted in the midfielder crudely studding the ankle of the Celtic debutant earned only a caution from referee Don Robertson. However, it is now being assessed by the SFA compliance officer in appearing to meet the threshold for a red card offense – which Postecoglou believes is how the rules state “reckless”, even if not premeditated, endangering of an opponent should be sanctioned.

The Celtic manager believes that Robertson did not take “control” before the 60th minute incident amid an aggressive approach from Barry Ferguson’s team, Callum McGregor also lost long-term to a facial injury sustained in an accidental clash. And he considers the encounter might have unfolded differently had a video assistant review system been in place to support the officials.

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“Most countries have VAR now and those kind of things [the Niang tackle] don’t escape punishment anymore,” said the Celtic manager. “That’s the right way to go about it. I don’t think anybody wants to see that, and at the same time we want to sell this game and keep increasing the attention the game here in Scotland gets. We want to showcase it. We’ve signed players from the other side of the world, Hearts have signed a couple of Aussies. The game here is getting a global reach here now, and I don’t think people want to tune in and see people getting hurt. They want to tune in and see exciting football, so it falls on everyone to protect the image of the game.

Ange Postecoglou during a Celtic training session at Lennoxtown.

“If you have VAR, those sorts of incidents are dealt with pretty quickly now, and what you see is less and less of them because players know they can’t escape that anymore. Here in Scotland we obviously don’t have VAR, but it’s not just referees, because they can sometimes miss things. There are linesmen, fourth officials who are also part of the game, and their role is to protect that environment so we all see what we want to see, and that is football being played.

“I think the referees’ role in any game is to be the protector of both sets of players and to make sure there’s an environment there that protects players from incidents like we saw. [At Alloa] it wasn’t just the one that caused the injury, I thought there were quite a few challenges he could have taken better control of. For me, that’s one of the primary roles of any referee. I don’t question referees’ decisions, I understand they’ve got a difficult job to do. We’ve had some good ones, we’ve had some bad ones, but I’ve never used them as an excuse. But in terms of protection of players, that’s where referees have to be vigilant, because we’re told they will be at the start of every season.”

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Alloa’s Mouhamed Niang follows through on Celtic’s Yosuke Ideguchi in Saturday’s Scottish Cup encounter to leave the Japanese midfielder facing weeks on the sidelines and the player – initially only cautioned – now facing a retrospective red card punishment. (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group)

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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