Roberto De Zerbi has become the latest manager to hit out at Premier League referees, remarkably claiming that he does not like “80 per cent” of England’s officials.
Premier League referees have come under scrutiny for a number of controversial decisions this season. Mikel Arteta became the most vocal critic when he described the decision to allow Newcastle’s winner against Arsenal earlier this month as “embarrassing” and a “disgrace”.
De Zerbi was speaking after seeing Brighton held to a 1-1 draw at home to Sheffield United on Sunday – a game that saw Mahmoud Dahoud given a straight red card for an ugly tackle on Ben Osborn.
De Zerbi admitted Dahoud deserved his punishment but cut an animated figure throughout the game and earned a yellow card.
After the match, the Seagulls boss said: “I am honest and clear. I don’t like 80 per cent of England’s referees.”
Asked to explain his comments, De Zerbi added: “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.”
De Zerbi: I don’t understand VAR in England
There may have been little VAR controversy during Brighton’s draw with the Blades but VAR officials also failed to escape De Zerbi’s fire.
The south-coast side received three apologies from PGMOL last season for incorrect VAR calls, with the most recent coming in April when Kaoru Mitoma was not awarded a penalty after being brought down by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in a defeat at Tottenham.
Pervis Estupinan also had a goal incorrectly disallowed in a draw at Crystal Palace in February after John Brooks, the 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.”