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Roberto De Zerbi says he doesn’t like ‘80% of English referees’ in rant on officials and VAR

Roberto De Zerbi says he doesn’t like ‘80% of English referees’ in a scathing rant on officials and VAR after drawing with Sheffield United.

The game on Sunday afternoon saw Simon Adingra’s brilliant goal in the 6th minute put the Seagulls in front, but Mahmoud Dahoud saw red in the second half, De Zerbi also booked, and Adam Webster’s own goal earned the Blades a point that moves them up to 19th in the Premier League.

The Italian manager admitted Dahoud deserved red, but still joined in calling out the standard of refereeing in the Premier League following a number of controversial decisions seen so far this season.

De Zerbi, who was booked when becoming an animated figure throughout the game, earning a yellow card in doing so, admits that Dahoud deserved his punishment.

After the match, he said: “I am honest and clear. I don’t like 80 per cent of England’s referees.

When asked to explain his comments, De Zerbi went on: “It’s not a new thing. I don’t like them. I don’t like their behaviour on the pitch.”

De Zerbi declined to say how his opinion of the match officials could be improved, saying: “I have to think only of my players. It’s not my job. I accept everything.”

While there was hardly any VAR controversy in Brighton’s draw with the Blades, he still called out VAR officials after his side received three apologies from PGMOL for the 2022/23 season for incorrect VAR calls, with the last coming in April when Kaoru Mitoma wasn’t given a spot kick after being brought down by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in a defeat at Tottenham.

Sky Sports report that Pervis Estupinan also had a goal incorrectly disallowed in the draw away at Crystal Palace in February after John Brooks, on VAR, drew the offside line in the wrong position.

PGMOL also admitted Fabinho should have been sent off during Brighton’s win over Liverpool in the FA Cup in January.

“Now I am working in England and I speak only about these referees,” said De Zerbi. “It’s not correct if I speak about other referees.

“England is the only country where there is VAR and you are not sure the decision is right. In other countries, you have to be sure 100 per cent.

“In England, no. I am not able to understand.”

Player ratings (via Sky Sports)

Brighton: Steele (6), Gross (7), Webster (5), Van Hecke (6), Igor (6), Gilmour (6), Dahoud (5), Buonanotte (6), Lallana (6), Adingra (8), Fati (6).

Subs: Pedro (6), Mitoma (7), Baleba (5), Veltman (6).

Sheffield United: Foderingham (7), Baldock (6), Trusty (6), Robinson (6), Bogle (7), Souza (6), Norwood (7), Thomas (6), McAtee (6), Hamer (7), Archer (7).

Subs: Osborn (6), Ben Slimane (n/a), Osula (n/a).

Player of the match: Simon Adingra

Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi to Sky/Premier League Productions:

“There were two games – one until the red card and the second game with 10 players.

“In the first one we deserved to win with more goals but because of our mistakes the result was only 1-0 – and in the second part of the game we concede.

“We have lost four points – two against Fulham and two today – to two shots on goal which is unlucky.

“In the second half before the red card we had a lot of chances to score the second goal, third goal but if we don’t close the game you have to fight until the end.

“With 10 players we could have defended better, with more order – I didn’t like that we lost order.

“In terms of attitude to win the game, I can say nothing – I think the quality of the play was very good, a great game but if you are playing like we did in the first 70 minutes you have to close the game and score two or three or four goals, not only one.”

Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom to BBC Match of the Day:

“Half-time was big for us, we needed it, we were only one down and we could make clear changes and I thought the second half was different game.

“When we panicked and lost composure Brighton exploited space really well but we got more comfortable as the game wore on.

“We were in really good moments up until the red card but it affected them more than it affected us and we were able to score straight away.

“We could have plenty more points out of plenty of games and it’s all right me saying that but this is the evidence now we’ve needed – in the last two games we’ve took points and it’s been the other team that’s been holding on.”

Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom to Sky/Premier League Productions:

“Listen we’ve got to be satisfied with a point, having gone behind against a good team. Although we’re disappointed with the goal, I thought they passed the ball well and caused us problems.

“We wanted a bit more quality with the ball because when we won the ball back we were either in too much of a rush or lacked composure.

“I thought it was a really good second half. We stayed in the game, got stronger and stronger, started solving the problems they were posing and half-time was really important for us.

“I felt we had good momentum – Brighton’s most dangerous moments second half were on the counter even before the sending-off which was a good reflection of how aggressive we were

“It would have been lovely to get the three points but we can’t be greedy. It’s something to build on, we’ve had a bit of bad luck and we could have been more on points but we have to be grateful for four from the last two games.”

Here’s how fans reacted as Roberto De Zerbi says he doesn’t like ‘80% of English referees’ in a rant on officials and VAR…

@LondonIsRedCom: I’m sure most of us would agree with De Zerbi here, because the refereeing here is outright bad.

@laurencecapel: Blasted Arteta for saying the standard of refereeing isn’t good enough but laughing with De Zerbi here. Arteta had the balls to speak out and now others slowly following suit. PGMOL in tatters.

@ikeiscool1986: No wonder the game is struggling for referees

@liams_1874: Referees need to go on strike for the amount of abuse and disrespect they get

@OfficialWheelie: I like the fact that managers are calling out the refs.. but why does everyone gets praised for it, apart from Arteta

@38Games0Defeats: They will all 1 by 1 come out against it all but they all allowed Arteta to be thrown under the bus. Total and utter cowards

@Clarkey_No1: I’d be amazed if the English referees like 20% of the managers so fair is fair! 😆

@JoeHowe08: Punishment incoming for saying it how it is. Must protect the referees at all costs 😂😂

@MattyArsenalFC: Managers finally feeling confident to step out and more openly and explicitly criticise refs this season. Much needed!

@JMazzz: Love how obsessed managers are with officials at the moment 😍😍😍.

@ncarowland: Well in De Zerbi, he’s bang on ✊

@Mick1082: Love this guy says it exactly how it is the officiating in this country is shockingly bad

@jamesm_s: @FA_PGMOL possibly time for a rethink…

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