Howard Webb, the head of the PGMOL that oversees all referee assignments in the Premier League, admitted to an error from center official Michael Oliver in Manchester City’s loss at Arsenal. In the first half of the game, Mateo Kovacic committed a foul on Martin Odegaard. He picked up a yellow card for that incident. Then, just minutes later, the Croat laid out a similar challenge on Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice. Oliver did not brandish a card, and Kovacic remained on the pitch,

Speaking to Premier League Productions on Match Officials Mic’d Up, Webb says the second Kovacic challenge deserved a second yellow card. However, Michael Oliver did not award the second yellow. Webb clarified that VAR cannot step in for yellow cards. This is the case even if a challenge is worthy of a second yellow and a subsequent sending-off.

Yet, the issues do not stop there with Kovacic’s tackles against Arsenal. Webb says that if Kovacic earned a red card for his original challenge on Odegaard, VAR would have been fine with that.

“This is clearly a poor tackle and I’m pretty confident if a red card had been given by Michael Oliver on the day it would have been a very straightforward ‘check complete’ [by the VAR official],” Webb said. “But he doesn’t, he issues a yellow card.”

VAR has been under scrutiny for the last two weeks because of egregious errors. Premier League audio showed an embarrassing blunder that ruled out a Liverpool goal in an eventual loss at Spurs. Then, just this past weekend, a similar mistake nearly transpired in Chelsea’s win at Burnley.

Premier League adopting changes to avoid further referee error

Webb said Oliver did not want to have too big of an impact on the game by showing two yellow cards in quick succession.

“[Oliver] doesn’t want to have a negative impact on the game by overreacting to something,” Webb said. “Sometimes players will be on a yellow card and will be pressured to show a second one.

To combat these errors, the Premier League is adopting new phrases to avoid any further miscommunication between officials. Webb added that Oliver will likely look back at this game and think Kovacic deserved a second yellow card.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Sportimage.