Premier League

Mike Dean admits he got VAR decision wrong over Marc Cucurella hair pull

Toby Cudworth
Marc Cucurella and Cristian Romero just before their clash on Sunday
Marc Cucurella and Cristian Romero just before their clash on Sunday / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages
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Mike Dean has admitted that he should have advised referee Anthony Taylor to consult the pitch-side monitor over Cristian Romero's hair pull on Marc Cucurella.

Cucurella was hauled to the ground by Romero during Chelsea's intense 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, but the Argentine defender escaped punishment for potential violent conduct, despite replays clearly showing he had yanked the former Brighton defender down by his hair.

Tottenham subsequently scored from the following phase of play, as Harry Kane nodded in Ivan Perisic's corner, with on-field referee Taylor coming in for a barrage of criticism after the game for not dismissing Romero.

But writing in a newspaper column for Mail+, Mike Dean, who was the VAR on duty at Stamford Bridge, has accepted full responsibility for not referring Taylor to the monitor at pitch-side - and admitted that not suggesting he view the footage for potential violent conduct was the wrong decision.


Mike Dean is now working as a full-time VAR official
Mike Dean is now working as a full-time VAR official / Robin Jones/GettyImages

What did Mike Dean say?

Mike Dean in his column for Mail+

"NO REFEREE wants to be driving home from a game knowing they should have made a different call. Whether you’re a VAR on the lookout for clear and obvious errors - like I am now - or a referee, assistant or fourth official, you always want to do your best. 

"Sometimes in hindsight, you realise you could have acted differently. I’ve now had time to reflect on Sunday’s clash at Stamford Bridge. I was VAR at Stockley Park and in the days after that 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Tottenham, we had meetings as part of our regular camps to discuss what happened in that and other matches. Like how players analyse their performances, we speak about the incidents we were involved in. 

"I’ll start with the first equaliser for Tottenham by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. This one was relatively straightforward. I can’t go back 44 seconds to look at Rodrigo Bentancur's potential foul on Kai Havertz. It is outside the attacking phase of play – the Tottenham player got a toe to the ball anyway – so that wasn’t a factor in whether Hojbjerg’s goal should stand. The question was whether Richarlison was interfering from an offside position. When Hojbjerg’s shot was struck, Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy had a view of the ball for me. His line of vision wasn’t clearly blocked, so it was onside and 1-1. 

"As for the second goal by Harry Kane, I asked referee Anthony Taylor to wait while I looked at the incident involving Tottenham’s Cristian Romero and Chelsea’s Marc Cucurella. I could not award a free-kick as VAR, but I could recommend to Taylor that he visit the referee review area to consider a possible red card. In the few seconds I had to study Romero pulling Cucurella’s hair, I didn't deem it a violent act. 

"I’ve since studied the footage, spoken to other referees and, upon reflection, I should have asked Taylor to visit his pitch-side monitor to take a look for himself. The referee on field always has the final say. It goes to show that no matter how experienced you are, and I’ve spent more than two decades as a Premier League official, you are always learning. 

"It’s disappointing for me as this was one incident in an otherwise very good weekend from our officials. Decisions are debated – that’s the life of a referee. There were some perfectly officiated games elsewhere, like Liverpool against Crystal Palace on Monday night which capped a great weekend of Premier League football."


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