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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Matthew Lindsay

SFA contact UEFA refereeing chief seeking clarity over 'confusion and contradictions'

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) have written to UEFA head of refereeing Roberto Rosetti seeking clarification on why Scotland’s goal against Spain was disallowed on Thursday night and urging him to clear up “confusion and contradictions”.

Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay appeared to have given the national team the lead in the second half of the vital Euro 2024 qualifier in Seville when he scored a spectacular free kick.

However, Alvaro Morata and his team mates protested to Dutch referee Serdar Gozubuyuk and the match official ruled the strike off following a VAR check.

That provoked a furious response from Steve Clarke’s players as well as members of the Tartan Army inside the La Cortuja stadium.

It was unclear whether Gozubuyuk had chalked the spectacular effort off because centre half Jack Hendry had been offside or because the defender had fouled goalkeeper Unai Simon.

A UEFA source confirmed earlier today that it had not been allowed to stand because of Hendry’s position when McTominay struck his attempt.

However, the SFA are, like so many Scotland supporters, deeply unhappy at that decision and the fact it took him 16 minutes to change his mind over the reason.

They are bemused at a number of other calls by the referee in the wake of the 2-0 defeat and have contacted Rosetti and urged him to clear up the ‘confusion and contradictions’.

Senior officials at Hampden believe that Scotland striker Lyndon Dykes was fouled in the Spain area at the same incident and have asked why no spot kick was awarded.

They are also unhappy about the inconsistency of the match official’s calls and have asked why no free kick was given when John McGinn appeared to be fouled by Dani Carvajal in an advanced position the first half.

Rosetti was supposed to be the UEFA referee observer at the game in Seville – but the Italian had to pull out for personal reasons and his place was taken by Tomasz Mikulski.

A UEFA spokesman said: “The referee’s decision at the free-kick was for offside.

“After the on-field review, the decision was offside as the attacking player was touching and standing in front of the goalkeeper.

“Therefore, according to Law 11 for Offside, the attacker impacted on his opponent - the goalkeeper - playing or attempting to play the ball.”

However, Gozubuyuk did not signal for an indirect free kick after watching a replay on his pitchside monitor, he signalled for a foul. And the stadium scoreboard also showed the goal had been disallowed for a foul.

The SFA letter asks:

* Why the referee signalled a foul with his hand gesture, with that information handed to broadcasters? 

• Why broadcasters were informed that the decision had been changed 16 minutes later and a line graphic presented showing only one line? 

• Why the decision was changed for a third time to inform broadcasters that the goal had been ruled out because Scotland player Jack Hendry was deemed to have fouled goalkeeper Unai Simon? 

• Why the original decision of the referee to award the goal was deemed a ‘clear and obvious error’ when the Spain keeper made no attempt to play the ball? 

• Why a clear foul against John McGinn was not given as a free-kick? 

* Why VAR failed to look at a penalty claim for Lyndon Dykes when McTominay’s free-kick was disallowed? 

Ryan Christie, the Scotland playmaker, has called for like European football’s governing body to provide clarity on how the new technology is used amid growing unhappiness throughout the game.

“It’s so frustrating,” he said. “We’d come what we came here to do, we were at our best as we got into the second half. I felt they were running out of ideas.

“Then we got the Scott McTominay’s goal that turns out not to be a goal. It was tough to take. I didn’t even know there was the possibility of a VAR check. I’m off celebrating, Scott’s off celebrating, everybody’s off celebrating.

“Then the ref’s telling everyone on the pitch that it’s for a push, then when we go to see him afterwards he’s saying it’s offside. But if it’s offside then he doesn’t have to go to the monitor, does he?

“So, that’s the main problem here, there’s no clarity. If no one in the stadium knows what the decision’s been given for, then it can’t be clear and obvious. We keep hearing from everyone that these things have to be clear and obvious.”

Christie added: “I’ve seen it back from a few angles. From the match angle, which I’m guessing they have on VAR, it looks like Jack pushes him a little bit. Then you see an angle from behind the goal and he hardly touches him. In any case, the goalkeeper’s already moving to cover his front post.

“I’m not sure if VAR had that angle. This is what really gets to us players, it just leads to more questions and doubt when what we need is certainty and clarity. I think we should have VAR for decisions that are yes or no.

“If you can draw a line I can accept that. But when it all hangs on someone else’s opinion, we’re never going to get to the end of it. All we know is that at 1-0, we’d have been in a great position to go on and get the result.”

Christie felt that Scotland, who are still in top spot in Group A with two games remaining against Georgia away and Norway at home, deserved to take at least a point from the match in La Cartuja.

“We knew it was going to be tough, especially the position they are in,” he said. "They had one off the post and a few chances and it felt like a long night. But in the second half I personally felt that we had them here. They were running out of ideas a little bit and that’s the incredibly frustrating thing. 

 “It’s an incredible cross by (Jesus) Navas and a great header by (Alvaro) Morata. It is so frustrating, but we move on and have the game on Tuesday which will be good. And then we have two massive games (Euro 2024 qualifiers against Georgia and Norway) next month as well.”

Steve Clarke’s side will qualify for the Euro 2024 finals in Germany without kicking a ball if Spain draw or beat Norway away on Sunday and Christie admitted that he will be cheering on Luis de la Fuente’s men.  

“Absolutely I will,” he said. “Listen, we wanted to come here and do it ourselves. Everyone was desperate because we are so close and we wanted to get over the finishing line. 

“We wanted to do it ourselves and what a place it would have been to do it. But it wasn’t to be and it’s out of our hands for Sunday. More importantly we have two massive chances to do it in November and we’re looking forward to that.”

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