Manchester City striker Erling Haaland may yet face an FA Charge after his furious reaction to referee Simon Hooper’s blatant error that could have cost the blues a winning goal in the final moments of the 3-3 home draw with Spurs.
Haaland had been fouled by Emerson Royal as he received a pass, but got up quickly to send Jack Grealish through on goal, only for Hooper to bring back play for the foul. The Norwegian allowed his frustration to boil over, the anger clear on his face that the referee had allowed play to continue until Grealish was clear, then called for the free kick.
Afterwards, the Norwegian took to Twitter to continue to remonstrate the decision, while manager Pep Guardiola was more reserved in his post-match interview.
Haaland was absolutely right in his reaction, but also very wrong.
The frustration of the Norwegian was clear - the referee had prevented City from a goal-scoring opportunity. Hooper seemed perfectly fine that Haaland had quickly got to his feet following the foul and allowed play to continue. It was only once Grealish was free that the foul was given. It was an outrageous decision and one that leads to questions regarding the professionalism of referees.
And Haaland had a right to question the referee’s decision. Any player in the world, whether you’re at grassroots level or playing in a World Cup Final, you’re going to question it. But how Haaland approached the referee will now undoubtedly be called into question.
The striker’s anger overspilled and that’s not what professional footballers should be doing. Haaland was furious, and rightly so, but to confront the referee like that often leads to cards being brandished, and the blues who did surround the ref can count themselves lucky not to have been shown a card. We can only assume that the seriousness of the error would have been compounded by showing cards to aggrieved players.
The blues need to control themselves a little more. Yes, the decision was wrong, but that doesn’t mean the players should act in such an aggressive manner towards the ref. At the end of the day, they are human and are entitled to show frustration. But they are also role models for younger players and their actions today can have a huge impact on youngsters of tomorrow.
Not Hooper’s First Rodeo
City should really have expected something like this to happen. It was Hooper who saw nothing wrong with Andre Onana’s challenge on Wolves’ Sasa Kalajdzic, while the rest of the footballing world saw something completely different.
And, it was Hooper who was in charge of Spurs’ home game against Liverpool, when the visitors had a goal disallowed after the linesman flagged for offside and VAR failed to spot the error, leading to praise from Hooper for the VAR team.
In both instances, PGMOL have been forced to apologise for the serious errors in these games.
How many more times do teams have to suffer at the hands of incompetent officials before something is finally done about it?