Brighton captain Lewis Dunk accused referee Lee Mason of losing control of their game at West Brom when he made an “embarrassing, horrendous decision” to disallow, award and then rule out out a goal during their 1-0 defeat.
And when Dunk spoke to the media afterwards he asked why the official was not doing the same.
Dunk scored from a quickly taken free-kick in the first half but the goal was eventually ruled out after a bizarre few minutes at The Hawthorns which only ended after the video assistant referee (VAR) intervened.
“I said to the referee, ‘can I take it?’ He blew his whistle and I took it,” Dunk told Sky Sports. “Why doesn’t he come and speak to the press like me? Never, they hide behind their bubble.
“I don’t think he knew what he was doing. He gave the goal. Why did he give it? I don’t know why VAR was getting involved.”
Dunk, when asked if Mason had lost control of the game, added: “Yeah, he did. Fact.”
‘We need more clarification’ – Potter
Brighton boss Graham Potter shared his captain’s frustrations and called for “more clarification” on the situation he said he “did not understand”.
“As far as I know Lewis Dunk asked to take the free-kick quickly and the referee said yes. In between that, there was another whistle,” said Potter. “I don’t know what that whistle was for.
“The confusion is on the pitch and it gets worse when someone outside this area is making the decisions.”
West Brom manager Sam Allardyce said he was “laughing about how bizarre this game was” in his post-match interview but said Mason had “come over and explained the situation” regarding the double whistle blow.
“I’m not sure you can take a quick free-kick any more. Have you seen a quick free-kick this season?” said Allardyce. “There are so many bizarre rule changes today. We don’t really know categorically what we should or should not be doing in these situations.”
Meanwhile, West Brom goalscorer Kyle Bartley said “there was a bit of confusion” but Mason “dealt with it really well and came to the right conclusion”.
So what actually happened?
Dunk quickly curled a free-kick into the net after Mason blew his whistle while West Brom were still setting up their wall.
But almost as soon as he had blown, Mason did so again after realising goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was not yet in position.
It was ruled out by the referee – but Mason quickly changed his decision as Brighton’s players strongly appealed against it – before VAR intervened.
VAR prompted Mason to run over to the pitchside monitor to review a potential offside and also whether his second whistle had come before the ball had crossed the goalline.
Eventually the goal was disallowed – again – because it was deemed Mason’s second whistle had been blown before the ball crossed the line.
‘Referee seemed to forget the rules’
BBC Radio 5 Live commentator Chris Wise said Mason “made such a mess” of the situation and it was “perhaps the season’s most controversial moment”.
Ex-Everton midfielder Leon Osman agreed, saying Mason had “completely lost control” and “seemed to forget the rules”.
“I have never seen that before, it was quite bizarre. It is pure confusion,” Osman added on 5 Live. “Lee Mason himself didn’t seem to know what decision he should give. He knew he was at fault in some way. It was a complete mess.
“We all make mistakes, referees will make mistakes, but it is how you deal with that. We have to be able to listen in [to communication between the referees and VAR].”
How you reacted…
Daniel: Graham Potter must have walked under a ladder, past a black cat or broken a mirror this morning. Possibly all three.
Sam Hartles: We’re always told to play to the whistle. Lee Mason blew the whistle so Dunk took the shot. How can it then be disallowed?! Why blow the whistle to then blow it again two seconds later. What a farce.
Raj Karia: Why can’t we hear what VAR are debating in Stockley Park, similar to a review in the cricket?
Jamie Brilley: We need to start hearing the conversations between VAR and the refs. Transparency is needed for the good of the game. There’s no trust in referees any more.