• Fred Delves

Soucek Red Card: How did Mike Dean get it so wrong?

It’s not been a good week for referees this week has it? A terrible week for them culminated with one of the worse refereeing decision in Premier League history when Tomas Soucek was sent off for 'Violent Conduct' after a lengthy VAR check. People thought it was laughable that the VAR official Lee Mason deemed that the ‘elbow’ needed a second look but it became farcical when Mike Dean brought out the red card after watching the incident for over 3 minutes. Bewilderment amongst fans has been rife since the incident occurred with fans still wondering how the ref saw the incident as an ‘intentional elbow’ after it was clear to see Soucek was just lifting his hand over Mitrovic’s head. The decision resulted in many footballing pundits and former players disagreeing with the decision and Mike Dean trended worldwide on Twitter. So let’s go over the incident.

West Ham had a free kick 25 yards out in the 90th minute and Soucek alongside their tallest players got into the box to push for the winner. As it’s about to be swung in, Soucek and Mitrovic are tussling for position and Soucek tries to lift his arm over Mitrovic but in doing so has clipped Mitrovic’s nose. Upon contact, Mitrovic hits the deck and over-exaggerates the contact made which Mike Dean sees and stops the ball being played in. Lee Mason then bizarrely believed the incident needed to be watched again by Mike Dean because of Soucek’s ‘closed fist’. Mike Dean then trotted over to the screen on the side of the pitch and watched the incident for over 3 minutes. The clip was replayed over and over again in slow-motion and it almost seemed like he was trying to find a way to give it as a red card. The ‘Mike Dean Show’ was in full swing once again. After many minutes, he turned back to the players and brandished the red card to an apologetic and innocent looking Soucek. Dean believed the incident was an intentional use of the elbow into Mitrovic’s face which is completely incorrect when you watch the clip. One explanation as to why he gave the decision is that he believes that Soucek should be aware of his surroundings and shouldn’t have raised his fist like he did. Even this excuse shouldn’t have resulted in a red card as the act was still not ‘intentional’. It has instigated discussions around the footballing community about the trust we have in referees to make the correct and impartial decision. This incident is not isolated, with Southampton and Arsenal also being the victim of some horrendous officiating recently. I wouldn’t go as far as to say there is a biased or financial motive behind these decisions as some conspiracies suggest but I do believe they aren’t completely fair when officiating. Mike Dean is renowned for his big ego and personality within the sport and has brandished the most cards in Premier League history, so he has a reputation for stealing the headlines. Now with VAR, there is no need to get simple decisions incorrect. Lee Mason should’ve taken one look at the incident and understood that there was no intention in the elbow but instead he decided that Dean needed to take another look. Then for Dean to look at it and come to the decision that he made a ‘Clear and Obvious error’ shows a complete lack of fairness and refereeing ability in his decision making. It raises bigger questions over the PGMOL and it’s practices training their refs as many would believe that officiating in England hasn’t been good enough for years now. England had no referees in the 2018 World Cup as a result of this and the ability of the referees need to improve as the Premier League rapidly grows. Currently, it’s miles behind and doesn’t look like catching up any time soon.

Written by Fred Delves