Furious Phoenix seek VAR answers from refs

Angered by what they believe were two incorrect decisions that went against them in Friday’s A-League Men defeat to Western Sydney, Wellington Phoenix have sent a please explain letter to Football Australia’s referees’ boss.

The Phoenix were livid after the 2-0 loss to the Wanderers at WIN Stadium, believing defender Callan Elliot was clearly fouled in the lead-up to the Wanderers’ first goal by Tomer Hemed before the Israeli striker opened the scoring.

Whether Hemed should have even been on the field is another talking point the Phoenix are seeking clarity on, maintaining there was a clear handball inside the area by the forward shortly before Josh Laws poked home in the first half.

That goal was subsequently chalked off by the VAR for offside but Phoenix operations manager Shaun Gill said the club wanted to know whether Hemed’s handball in the build-up had been looked at by officials.

“Very frustrating because from our opinion, looking at the footage that we’ve seen, it’s a handball … we probably should be playing 10 men,” Gill said.

“That’s one that we’ve asked for an explanation of the process and what they’re looking at and then obviously secondly is the Callan Elliot incident leading in to the goal which basically gives Tomer a clear strike.”

VAR was used to determine Hemed’s 66th-minute opener had crossed the goal-line but Gill said, again, the club wanted to find out whether the incident involving Elliot in the build-up had also been assessed by officials.

“It’s another one where all of a sudden looking at a ball crossing the line becomes the focal point,” he said.

“We can’t explain the process to them. Our sort of thinking is that their process – ‘is there a ball across the line?’ – we’ll look at that.

“But hang on, we need to come back a second and look at what happened leading into that because that’s all part of it.

“That’s all we’re really trying to achieve here is, where does the process start? Where does the process end? How can we get this decision making better?”

Gill said the club wouldn’t be surprised to receive an apology from Football Australia head of referees Nathan Magill, but that would mean little without an understanding of the process.

He also supported the idea of interaction between the on-field referee and VAR officials being broadcast to fans.

“If it’s part of the game, why not? If you look at rugby league, you look at rugby, hearing that audio of what’s actually being looked at is probably good for fans,” he said.

“We keep hearing it’s about the entertainment, it’s about giving the fans and the punters more of an experience of what’s going on in a game and that’s part of it, right?

“If there’s nothing to hide, put it out there.”