Arsene Wenger.

Arsene Wenger claims Premier League referees are stuck in bygone era

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has criticised Premier League referees by claiming they are stuck in the 1950s in the way they still mollycoddle players.

Wenger also called on the game’s authorities to simplify the handball rule after the late penalty Arsenal conceded to West Brom on Sunday when the ball struck Calum Chambers on his arm.

The Football Association has charged Wenger following his conduct in the referees’ changing room after the match and he now has until 6pm on Friday to respond.

Wenger pointedly said Mike Dean “saw what he wanted to see” at the Hawthorns and believes referees in England need to sharpen up.

“For me, they have to serve the game like we have to serve the game, and to try to give positive emotions to people who love football in the stand,” Wenger said.

“It’s not [appropriate] any more, in 2018, that the guy calls a player, speaks half a minute, or a minute to him, to say, ‘Look, you have to behave properly.’ That is gone.

“That is not the rhythm of a modern society. People want crisp, sharp action, and the referee has to make sure that that happens.

“This is the 1950s, where the guy talks to him – ‘If you’re not nice, I might punish you’. Come on, let’s not waste time.

“What does it help for the game? Nothing. Nothing happens. People who sit in the stand don’t want to see that.


“They want to see, ‘Come on, let’s get on with it and play’. That’s our responsibility. We don’t live in the dark ages.”

Handballs have become increasingly problematic for Premier League referees, with Jose Mourinho lamenting Craig Pawson’s decision not to give Manchester United a penalty on Saturday against Southampton’s Maya Yoshida.

FA rules state a handball must be a “deliberate act” and the distance between the opponent and ball should also be considered.

Wenger said: “FA rules change always during the season because they must watch the television and say ‘oh, he has given penalty – maybe next time I do it as well’.

West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal - Premier League

“They need a clear guidance. I personally think you have to make the rules as simple as possible.”

Referees may be set to receive extra help, however, as a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will be used during Brighton’s FA Cup third round match against Crystal Palace on Monday.

It is the first time VAR will have been deployed in a competitive match in England, with technology able to assist on goals, penalties, red cards, and cases of mistaken identity.

Wenger says the process must be as smooth as possible.

Crystal Palace v Arsenal - Premier League

“It is inevitable because the referee can get help and become more efficient,” Wenger said. “If somebody upstairs quicker than he does, tells him, ‘Go, let it go’, that’s what we want.

“It’s not that he walks down the side of the pitch and watches a screen, and the people in the stand freeze up there until he has made a decision.

“That’s not what we want. If it’s [like] that, I personally am against it.”

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Arsene Wenger
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