In A-League games, striker Jamie Maclaren from Melbourne City hit out at the quality of refereeing decisions and VAR, calling for officials to face the same public scrutiny as players and coaches.
Maclaren, speaking on the Grandstand Football Podcast, was asked for his views on the consistency of the league’s office.
“As a player, if I was to miss a chance or if I was to get a red card — players are in the spotlight — you get the magnifying glass [out] and people start to pinpoint things,” he said.
“At post-match interviews you get asked the harder-hitting questions, like you’re asking me now …
“Now I have a question for the officials… they finish the game and they can just hop in their car and drive home without explaining their decisions.
“So coaches just lose their job because of these sort of decisions; players, their futures are [affected by them]. It’s a tough one to speak about because it does annoy me.
He pointed to the match last weekend at Hindmarsh Stadium, where two controversial penalties were granted to Adelaide United in a 3-2 victory over the Central Coast Mariners.
“For me, the first two [penalties] the other night at Adelaide United, I can’t see how VAR has given Mauky’s (skipper Stefan Mauk) first one,” Maclaren said.
“And I’m the same, I try to milk penalties sometimes, but that was beyond [what’s acceptable].
“Mauky copped some abuse which he shouldn’t have and he did rightfully put that stuff on his social media. It’s uncalled for.
“But at the same time, if we’re going to start making these calls, these big calls which are effectively coach-killers, result-killers, you need to have these referees and VARS [held accountable].”
After the game, Mariners coach Alen Stajcic said his players probably thought they had been robbed.
Referee leader Strebre Delovski later allegedly claimed that officials were incorrect to give Mauk two penalties.
Delovski said the first penalty should not have been issued by Nine referee Adam Fielding because Mauk initiated contact with the defender, and Fielding should have been called upon by the video assistant referee to review the decision.
Mariners midfielder Josh Nisbet was penalized for taking down Mauk in the other incident, but Delovski claimed that both players were holding each other.
“You need to have these referees to come out, face the media, face the questions from you guys and say this is why we gave these penalties,” Maclaren said on the podcast.
“At the end of the day, if I was Alen Stajcic … rightly so, he walked off and declined to speak to Fox Sports and probably speak to Robbie [Cornthwaite].
“Because he would have said something he regretted and … it’s not good enough.”
“We as players, if we don’t perform to our best, we get told about it. We wake up the next morning, it’s in the papers. But the referees, they get away with it.”
Maclaren said he had friends from the UK watching the A-League, who were texting him saying they were turning off their TV, because “embarrassing” was the VAR and the cop.
“So if guys are like that in the UK watching that, I can only imagine how bad it is for people at home and our fans.
“We want to grow this game but it’s killing our game.”