Tottenham's Cristian Romero was seen tugging Chelsea defender Marc Cucurella's hair just before Spurs' late equaliser at Stamford Bridge; VAR took a look at the incident and decided not to punish the Tottenham player; Cucurella says the referee and VAR made an "error"
Friday 19 August 2022 10:13, UK
Chelsea defender Marc Cucurella says Cristian Romero's hair pull on him was "clear" as day - and branded the decision not to punish the Tottenham defender as a "referee and VAR error".
Last weekend's Super Sunday clash between Chelsea and Tottenham descended into drama as Romero was not penalised for tugging on Cucurella's hair as Spurs attacked a corner. From the resulting phase of play, Harry Kane headed home a late corner to equalise for 2-2, with managers Antonio Conte and Thomas Tuchel clashing at full-time.
Chelsea boss Tuchel says both of Tottenham's goals last weekend should not have stood and Cucurella believes referee Anthony Taylor and VAR Mike Dean made a mistake in not punishing the Tottenham defender.
"For me it is too clear in the game, on the pitch," Cucurella told a press conference when asked about the incident. "I didn't see it on the TV, the video. I think it's very clear, but this is one error of the referee or VAR.
"Sometimes the referees have good decisions, sometimes not. This is not my problem. Maybe we need to work harder to not concede this goal in the last minute.
"I saw [VAR] checking for a red card in the stadium. For me it is clear. In this moment, I don't know what happened."
Cucurella also joked that his hair is fine and he will never consider changing his style - and added there were no hard feelings towards Tottenham defender Romero.
"I have no problem with him," the Spaniard added. "It's just one action of the game but maybe it was important because it changed the final result.
"For me it's no problem. Before the game I spoke with him [Romero]. I have no problem. It's only one action in the game. Maybe an important action because it changes the final result. We have another opportunity [to beat Spurs]."
Romero will not face retrospective action for the incident late in the game on Sunday - as pulling a player's hair is not considered an offence in football's laws.
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.
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.
In his post-match press conference, Tuchel felt referee Taylor should not be allowed to referee Chelsea games anymore after Sunday's performance.
In relation to the first Tottenham goal, Chelsea felt there was a foul on Kai Havertz in the build-up. Taylor disagreed.
Referees have been told there is a higher threshold for fouls this season to help with the flow of games. However, VAR did not look closely at the foul because it wasn't deemed to be in the same attacking phase of play as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's goal.
A potential interference by Richarlison, who was standing in an offside position when Hojbjerg struck the ball, was looked at. 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? If he does not see it, I don't blame him.
"I didn't see it, but we have people at VAR who check this. 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."
Since the match, Tuchel and Conte have both been charged with a breach of FA Rule E3. It is alleged that the behaviour of both managers was improper following the end of the fixture, with the pair having until Thursday to provide their respective responses.
Meanwhile, VAR official Dean has not been selected for a Premier League fixture this weekend after last Sunday's controversial ending. Referee Taylor, meanwhile, will take charge of West Ham vs Brighton on Sunday.