Tottenham Cristian Romero will not face retrospective action for pulling the hair of Chelsea’s Marc Cucurella on Super Sunday – as pulling a player’s hair is not considered an offence in football’s rules.
In a controversial final few minutes of the Premier League game on Sunday evening, Romero was seen tugging on Cucurella’s hair as he looked to attack a corner as Spurs looked for a late equaliser.
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VAR official Mike Dean took a look at the incident and decided it was not a red card offence, nor a free-kick to Chelsea. Referee Anthony Taylor allowed Spurs to take another corner straight away, which Harry Kane scored from to haul Tottenham back level to 2-2.
The finale left Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel furious with the decision not to punish Romero and award Chelsea a late free-kick, with the German head coach imploring that the goal should not have been allowed to stand.
Image: Romero clearly pulled Cucurella's hair just before Tottenham got their equaliser
And because VAR took a look at the decision, Romero will not face any further punishment for violent conduct. Retrospective action can only be given when both the match and video officials fail to spot an incident on the pitch in real time and do not mention it in their post-match report.
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Had referee Taylor spotted the incident in real time, then the correct course of action would have been a free-kick to Chelsea, leaving Spurs unable to score from that specific attack.
Unlike rugby, football laws do not specifically mention hair-pulling. The officials must decide whether the extent of the hair pulling is forceful enough to be considered violent conduct, if it is not then it would probably be considered unsporting behaviour and result in a yellow card.
Tuchel: Taylor shouldn’t referee Chelsea games | ‘Where was VAR?’
Image: Thomas Tuchel protests to the fourth official after Tottenham equalise at Stamford Bridge
In his post-match press conference, Tuchel felt that referee Taylor should not be allowed to referee Chelsea games anymore – as he felt both of Tottenham’s goals on Sunday should have been ruled out.
In relation to the first goal, Chelsea felt there was a foul on Kai Havertz in the build-up but Taylor disagreed. Referees have been told there is a higher threshold for fouls this season to help with the flow of games but VAR did not look closely at it because it wasn’t deemed to be in the same attacking phase of play as Tottenham’s first goal, scored by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
A potential interference by Richarlison, who was standing in an offside position when Hojbjerg struck the ball, was looked at, but it was decided his position had no negative impact on goalkeeper Edouard Mendy’s position.
Asked whether Taylor should never referee Chelsea again, the German replied: “Maybe it would be better.
“But honestly, we also have VAR to help make the right decisions. Since when can players be pulled at their hair? Since when is that? And if he does not see it, I don’t blame him.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel says his full-time altercation with Antonio Conte was the result of emotions running high.
“I didn’t see it, but we have people at VAR who check this and then you see it and then how can this not be a free-kick and how can it not be a red card? How?
“This has nothing to do with the referee in this case. If he does not see something, that’s why we have people to check if there’s a decisive error going on.”
The FA are expected to investigate the comments made by Tuchel about Taylor. Post-match comments in the media or on social media are permitted if they solely criticise a match official’s performance or competence.
However, if the comments imply bias, attack their integrity, are personally offensive, prolonged, or particularly unreasonable it could lead to the FA issuing a charge or formal warning, reminding them of their responsibilities or taking no further action depending on the seriousness of the incident or track record of the ‘participant’.
Tuchel and Tottenham manager Antonio Conte were involved in two separate touchline incidents – after Tottenham’s first goal and after full-time – and the FA will study the referee’s report and match footage before deciding whether to charge both managers. This decision will be made before Wednesday evening.
The referee’s verdict
Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher gives his expert analysis on the key moments in the 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.
Analysis from Sky Sports pundit and former referee Dermot Gallagher:
INCIDENT: Should VAR have given Cristian Romero a red card for his hair pull on Marc Cucurella ahead of Spurs’ equaliser?
VERDICT: The VAR should have intervened – it was a red card and a free-kick to Chelsea.
DERMOT SAYS: I think the VAR should intervene. I’m not sure the referee has seen it, I think he looks down but I think he does it instinctively. I think he watches the flight of the ball. He does look down, but I think it has already happened. The VAR has the perfect look. As soon as I saw it, I said, ‘I think he is going to get a red card here, he’s pulled him down by the hair’. I anticipated the VAR sending Anthony Taylor to the screen. I know for a fact that if Anthony had been sent to the screen, he would have given a red card and a free-kick to Chelsea.
Hojbjerg’s leveller for Tottenham sparks a touchline row between Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte.
INCIDENT: Tottenham equaliser for 1-1 – was an offside Richarlison interfering with play?
DERMOT SAYS: The logic here is that the VAR will have been asked to decide if he is impacting on the goalkeeper. You think yes, I think possibly, they think no. Their logic is that the ball comes a long way, he’s a long way away from the goalkeeper, there was also a nick off Kalidou Koulibaly. With all of that factored in the VAR felt the goal stood, that’s the logic. I can understand how they have arisen at that decision, I can understand why people would be angry at that.
Stephen Warnock: For me, he is interfering. He is in the vicinity, he is in the eyeline of (Edouard) Mendy, I think he is leaning to the left to see around. The one that interests me is the distance from goal. This isn’t kids’ football, this is the Premier League, the elite league, where players strike the ball at a speed. For me, Richarlison is active. I know they say he isn’t, but he is, he’s on the pitch. This is the rule which drives me insane. He’s in and around the penalty area and around the vicinity of the goal.
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