Antonio Conte attacked the new VAR system for a “big, big mistake” in not awarding Chelsea a penalty during their extraordinary FA Cup third-round replay victory over Norwich City.
The Chelsea manager even said that the decision not to award a spot-kick in extra time, when Willian was challenged by Norwich’s Timm Klose, could only have been taken by someone who “was not a referee” – referring to the VAR official at the Premier League’s television compound near Heathrow. In fact the video official was referee Mike Jones.
“As you know very well, I don’t like to speak about the referee. I like to accept the referee’s decision,” Conte said. “But, if we want to use a new system, I can’t accept a big mistake. In this case, the Willian penalty was a big, big mistake. Not from the referee on the pitch, but from the person watching the game.
“If you’re watching the game and don’t see this situation… I hope the VAR wasn’t a referee because if you see that watching on television and don’t think that’s a penalty… he has to improve and must improve. I’m talking about them trying to improve in this situation. I don’t want an advantage (from diving). It’ll be important to improve.”
In the incident, Willian was booked for apparently diving which angered Conte further. “You must be sure, 100 per cent,” he said. “And, despite this, there is another person checking the situation. If the person checking the situation calls you and says it’s a penalty, you say you made a mistake, take back the yellow card and give the penalty. I think we have to find the right solution to try to help the referee.”
“I think that we need to improve if we want to use this new system. Today, in this game, there is a situation very clear with Willian at the start of the first period of extra time. I think the situation was very clear. I watched it and this is a penalty. Very clear.
“But this is not because I’m not happy with a referee’s decision. The referee took quickly a decision to book Willian. That means you don’t have doubt. If you do this quickly, it means you don’t have doubt. Instead, I repeat, if we want to improve – it’s only to try and improve the system – we have to wait to check with the person who is watching the game and then, if this person is sure 100 per cent that it is simulation, go and book Willian. Instead, I think the person watching the game, at least you must have a doubt. There is a kick to Willian and he should call the referee and tell him. Maybe it’s a penalty, for me.”
Chelsea had both Pedro and Alvaro Morata sent off, with both also cautioned for diving.
“About Pedro, if there is a dive, it’s right to take a yellow card,” Conte said.
“It’s the same for Morata. I don’t want an advantage, especially if you know this system is being used.”