Referee Dean Admits Error in Controversial Arsenal Game

Arsene Wenger has words with Dean at the HawthornsArsene Wenger has words with Dean at the Hawthorns

Referee Mike Dean has admitted he made a mistake by awarding West Bromwich Albion a penalty in their New Year’s Eve Premier League clash with Arsenal, according to referees’ chief Mike Riley.

Dean and his team of officials were confronted by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger after Calum Chambers was penalized for a handball in the 88th minute of the 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns.

Wenger was subsequently handed a three-match touchline ban and a €45,000 fine but, on the eve of the introduction of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology to English football, it has emerged that Dean has accepted he got the decision wrong.

According to, Riley feels VAR, which was used for the first time in England on Monday when Brighton hosted Crystal Palace in the Football Association Challenge Cup and again on Wednesday for Arsenal’s clash with Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semifinals, would have helped overturn the decision.

“You award the penalty because what you have seen on the pitch is the arm coming towards the ball. The question you ask is, is it an act of deliberate handball?” Riley said.

“But immediately there is evidence from another camera angle which shows actually the opposite happened. The reverse angle shows him trying to bring his arm out of the way of the ball. That is the safety net of the VAR,” he added.

But Riley has expressed caution, warning VAR technology will not correct all of the injustices witnessed during matches.

He is encouraged by its potential but believes a period of skepticism surrounding it is inevitable, and that even when system flaws have been eradicated, imperfections will remain part of the game.

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