Any reasonable Spurs fan who watched Tottenham Hotspur lose 2-1 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge will admit that Giovani Lo Celso was extremely lucky to play the full match. Lo Celso was involved in a second half incident by the touchline where he stamped on the ankle of Cesar Azpilicueta as the latter slid into a challenge.
Match official Michael Oliver let play go on, but stopped play for an extensive VAR review. Ultimately, and amazingly, VAR official David Coote determined that the no-call was not a clear and obvious error, presumably because Lo Celso didn’t have anywhere else to put his foot, and play resumed. Replays showed how dangerous a situation it was, and Azpilicueta was left with some very large welts from Lo Celso’s studs. Notably, and despite having the option, Michael Oliver declined to go to the sideline and watch the incident on the touchline camera where he could potentially have reversed his call.
After the match, it was revealed that the officials at Stockley Park, where VAR officials watch the match, had released a statement admitting that they made a mistake on the call and that Lo Celso should have been issued a straight red card for a dangerous play.
BREAKING: We have been speaking to Stockley Park who have admitted they got the decision wrong and Lo Celso should have been sent off... @btsport— Jake Humphrey (@mrjakehumphrey) February 22, 2020
I’m not going to even attempt to justify Lo Celso’s role in the incident — it was clearly a dangerous play irrespective of intent, even as Azpilicueta appeared to slide under his boot. Nor am I going to defend VAR’s ruling — it was clearly incorrect. As Spurs fans we’re supposed to back our team and our players, but this was, to my mind, beyond the pale.
According to Premier League rules, Lo Celso will escape any further penalty from the league, as the incident was viewed and reviewed. The statement from Stockley Park reads more like an apology than anything else — they know they screwed it up and can’t do anything but raise their hands and admit it. But the incident certainly provides more ammunition for those who are already upset about how VAR has been used — or not used — in the Premier League this season.