'We need to talk about this': Markus Babbel lashes 'blind' FFA on ref­er­ee­ing

The Guardian Australia - - Sport - Aus­tralian As­so­ci­ated Press

West­ern Syd­ney coach Markus Babbel has crit­i­cised the qual­ity of ref­er­ee­ing in the A-League, say­ing Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion Aus­tralia are “blind” if they can’t see there is a prob­lem. Babbel was left fum­ing af­ter his side suf­fered a 4-3 loss to Perth Glory on Sun­day fol­low­ing a soft penalty de­ci­sion in the dy­ing min­utes.

Ref­eree Kurt Ams pointed to the spot in the 86th minute af­ter judg­ing that Glory striker Andy Keogh had been held by Wan­der­ers de­fender Bren­dan Hamill. But re­plays showed Keogh ini­tially had an arm around Hamill as well while he was back­ing into the Wan­der­ers de­fender.

For­mer Perth player Jamie Harn­well la­belled the de­ci­sion as soft, but the VAR did not over­turn the de­ci­sion be­cause it did not view it as an ob­vi­ous er­ror. Juande scored from the en­su­ing penalty in what proved to be the win­ning goal.

Babbel did his best to con­tain his anger af­ter the match, but the Ger­man was keen to use the ex­am­ple to fur­ther high­light what he views as a deep prob­lem with ref­er­ee­ing in the A-League.

“The qual­ity ... it’s not good enough,” Babbel said. “You have ex­perts, many peo­ple talk­ing about this fan­tas­tic sport, [but we need to] talk about this as well, be­cause this is a prob­lem.

“This is what I don’t un­der­stand – now you have help with the VAR, and even then you do so many mis­takes. It’s very hard to ac­cept, es­pe­cially if you have a team on the pitch like to­day with so many young play­ers that de­serve more.”

When asked whether he would like to raise the is­sue with the pow­ers that be at FFA, Babbel replied: “If they don’t see it, then they’re fuck­ing blind. They have to see it, they have to do some­thing, be­cause the qual­ity is not good enough.

“For me, it’s too many mis­takes. You can see it. I don’t know what’s go­ing on [in] they’re heads. They’re mak­ing de­ci­sions, you can’t un­der­stand this. It’s very hard to ac­cept. I think it’s a good time for all the ex­perts in the league to talk about it. Be­cause if you’re not talk­ing about it, noth­ing will change.”

Glory coach Tony Popovic re­fused to be drawn into the de­bate. “I’m not re­ally con­cerned. It’s not re­ally some­thing that I feel I need to talk about it,” Popovic said. “I’m sure VAR’s there for that. So if it [the penalty] wasn’t clear, it would have been over­turned.”

Glory’s win en­sured they stay six points clear of Syd­ney FC and Mel­bourne Vic­tory at the top of the ta­ble. West­ern Syd­ney’s fourth straight loss means they are 10 points adrift of sixth spot.

Juande scored from the win­ner at HBF Park to main­tain Perth’s six-point lead at the top of the A-League. Pho­to­graph: Paul Kane/Getty Images

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