Brighton and Hove Albion manager Roberto de Zerbi has joined the list of managers with a disdain for Premier League referees. In a season full of controversy and poor decisions from officials, coaches in the English top flight are voicing their disapproval of referees.
Following Brighton’s 1-1 draw against lowly Sheffield United, de Zerbi said he only cares for 20% of English referees.
“I am honest and clear. I don’t like 80 percent of England’s referees,” de Zerbi said. “It’s not a new thing. I don’t like them. I don’t like their behavior on the pitch.”
On Sunday, de Zerbi took exception to two calls that went against Brighton. Not only did the manager pick up a booking during the game. Mahmoud Dahoud earned a red card in the 69th minute. Five minutes later, Sheffield United equalized. However, de Zerbi did go on to say Dahoud deserved his red card.
That call did not warrant a VAR review. Still, de Zerbi said VAR is a major concern of his. Specifically, the Italian manager said he does not understand why it exists in England.
De Zerbi extends frustration with Premier League referees to VAR
Even if there was no raging controversy like other Premier League reviews this season, de Zerbi could not hold back on the video reviews.
“England is the only country where there is VAR and you are not sure the decision is right,” de Zerbi said. “In other countries, you have to be sure 100 percent.”
Brighton has been on the losing end of several controversial decisions that VAR played a hand in over recent seasons. Notably, the Professional Game Match Officials Board that assigns and checks referees issued three apologies to Brighton last season for incorrect calls.
This season, VAR has been the center of controversy in the Premier League. VAR audio showed an embarrassing mistake in Liverpool’s game at Spurs that led to a Tottenham win. Jürgen Klopp went so far as to demand a replay of the game. More recently, Mikel Arteta lambasted officials after Arsenal’s loss at Newcastle because of a VAR decision. While it is rare to see a coach verbally attack referees and VAR in the fashion Mikel Arteta did, Arsenal backed up its coach. In doing so, the club showed the disconnect between the teams and players versus the referees and officials.
Premier League and PGMOL may not respond
Dissent toward a referee is not tolerated on the pitch. However, Klopp and Arteta did not face any ramifications for their comments ripping officials. Therefore, de Zerbi may not face any punishment for his comment toward the Premier League referees. Liverpool received an apology from the refereeing body for the massive error. The PGMOL declined to respond to Arteta’s comments earlier this season.
Whatever the case may be, Brighton and de Zerbi enter the November international break with a sour taste in their mouths following the draw at home to Sheffield. The Seagulls return to action at the end of November with a trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday, Nov. 25.