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Premier League says Son red card was for “endangering a player’s safety”

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The decision was not reviewed by VAR.

Everton FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

We’re going to be talking about and debating the tackle by Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-Min that severely injured Everton midfielder Andre Gomes for a long time. Now, we know exactly why Martin Atkinson, who appeared ready to show Son a yellow card, changed his mind and sent the Spurs forward off.

The Premier League released a statement about the incident after the match and said that the red card was issued for “endangering a player’s safety.”

“The red card for Son was for endangering the safety of a player which happened as a consequence of his initial challenge.”

—Premier League statement

But in a move that could potentially muddy the situation even further, the Mirror is reporting that Atkinson made the decision unilaterally, and the play was NOT reviewed by VAR.

Son clipped the back of Gomes’ legs in a challenge from behind in the second half of Tottenham’s 1-1 draw against Everton at Goodison Park. The incident happened shortly after an uncalled play whereby Gomes appeared to throw an arm into the face of Son.

Replays were not shown on television due to the severity of the injury, but Son’s tackle appeared to be a trip, with Gomes taking a few steps and planting his foot. The injury happened in between that foot plant and colliding with Serge Aurier, who was also involved in the play.

After the match, Dele spoke to reporters and said how utterly devastated Son was by what happened to Gomes.

“Didn’t want to look too much at what happened. I want to send best wishes.

”Son is devastated and in tears. It’s not his fault. Son is one of nicest people you’ve ever met. He can’t even lift his head up, he’s crying so much.”

Reasonable people can disagree (and will, in this case) on whether or not Son’s foul on Gomes met the standard of reckless conduct. It goes without saying that the injury was horrific. It did appear to be a professional foul that in any other circumstance barring a gruesome injury would’ve resulted in at worst a yellow card. Son’s foul did not appear to cause the injury, but it was, as one of the masthead said in our writer’s room, “the catalyst to Gomes getting injured.”

Personally, I’d like to know why Atkinson decided to change the color of the card based on the severity of the injury rather than the play itself, and I’d DEFINITELY like to know why the play was not reviewed by VAR. I am not necessarily advocating that Sonny did not deserve to be sent off, but Atkinson’s decision in this play combined with the decision not to review the play at all only adds more questions to my mind as to what happened, and what should’ve happened, AND what role VAR does and should play in these kinds of incidents. If Atkinson really did change the color of his card based on the severity of the injury, that does not speak well towards Atkinson’s professionalism and decision-making as a match official.

Of course, all of us at Cartilage Free Captain wish nothing but the best for Andre Gomes and hope that he is able to make a swift and complete recovery.