Why Kovacic wasn’t sent off despite doing tackles to Odegaard and Rice


PGMOL chief Howard Webb has explained why Manchester City midfielder Mateo Kovacic wasn’t sent off against Arsenal on Sunday afternoon.

The defending champions of Premier League champions suffered their second successive English top-flight defeat at the weekend after a late goal from Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli. However, it had deflected off the face of Nathan Ake. And hence, City demoted to the third position in the table.

However, an incident in the first half that largely overshadowed the conversation around and after the fixture. It was that Mateo Kovacic remained on the field of play. He was there despite making hard challenges successively on Arsenal’s Martin Odegaard and Declan Rice.

The first challenge on Odegaard was reviewed by VAR, after on-field referee Michael Oliver deemed the tackle to only be worthy of a yellow card . It was a decision that the official’s colleagues agreed with over at Stockley Park.

Now, speaking on ‘Match Officials: Mic’d Up’ this week, PGMOL chief Howard Webb has offered his take on both the decisions that were reached. However, it was compared with a tackle by Malo Gusto for Chelsea against Aston Villa. As a result in the Frenchman saw a red card. But the question is why Kovacic wasn’t sent off.

Why Kovacic wasn’t sent off:

As quoted by the Premier League, Howard Webb explained,

“Of course we want to be as consistent as we can be throughout every game among our group, dealing with the same situations in the same way each week.

“But, of course, all situations vary slightly. We accept and understand this, and this is clearly a poor tackle [on Odegaard]. I’m pretty confident if Michael Oliver gave a red card on the day, it would have been a very straightforward ‘check complete.’”

Webb continued, “There’s a few differences here. The player, Kovacic, comes into the tackle with the right leg, though there’s some weight on the left leg. As he kind of lunges in, the right heel hits the ground and then the contact is a little bit more to the side with an upright foot as opposed to a side-on foot, that we saw with Gusto.

“A few small differences that led the VAR to feel that the on-field decision here of yellow card wasn’t clearly and obviously incorrect. Therefore ‘check-completing’ it, feeling that, on their intervention, it would have been a re-refereeing of that decision by the referee on the field.”

Moments later, Mateo Kovacic received a stern warning from referee Michael Oliver. It was because he did a similar late challenge on Arsenal’s Declan Rice. Instead of issuing a second yellow card, Oliver ensured that the Croatian remained on the pitch.

People questioned Howard Webb on the decision. He then reminded viewers that VAR is unable to intervene on decisions surrounding possible second yellow cards. However, he admitted that the Manchester City midfielder was quite lucky to stay on the pitch following the two challenges.

He further said,

“I do [believe Kovacic was lucky not to be shown a second yellow]. Second yellows are something that the VAR is unable to involve. But he was an extremely fortunate player to stay on the field of play.”

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