Chelsea manager Emma Hayes is upset with the officiating in her club’s 2-2 draw against Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Controversial decisions “robbed” the English club from a win in its first match of the Champions League group stage, Hayes said. In the second half, two key decisions went against the Blues, with a questionable penalty awarded to Madrid in the 78th minute and a would-be last-minute winner for Chelsea ruled offside.
“I think we’ve been robbed of what should have been a 3-1 game,” said Hayes, who has been named head coach of the U.S. women’s national team.
Video assistant referee (VAR) review was not available. After the match, UEFA released a statement on VAR is being rolled out gradually across its competitions, though it did not provide any timeline for when it might come to the Women’s Champions League group stage.
“UEFA already plans to implement VAR at the UEFA Women’s Nations League finals next year and will continuously evaluate the possibility to implement VAR in competitions or stages of competitions where it hasn’t been so far,” the statement read.
In the fifth and final minute of stoppage time of Wednesday’s draw, Chelsea scored on a close-range goal from Niamh Charles. But the flag was raised for offside, to the confusion of coaches and players alike. While Kerr was in an offside position, it was not in a way that impacted play, Hayes said.
“It’s embarrassing,” Hayes said. “I had to check because Niamh’s onside, but the reason the goal was ruled offside was because Sam [Kerr] was interfering with the goalkeeper.
“[Kerr is] about seven yards away from the goalkeeper, she’s nowhere near her, so I cannot understand the decision whatsoever.”
Following the draw, other players called out the lack of VAR, which isn’t set to be used in Champions League competition until the knockout rounds.
“I think it has to be used in the Champions League from minute one when the group stage starts,” Barcelona winger Caroline Graham Hansen said Thursday. “Every year we are doing things to improve [the game], but it’s clear that it should be utilised in the group phase as well as the knockouts.
“Like [this week], the games are intense, there are a lot of decisive situations and, at the end of the day, I think everyone just wants games to end with the result as it should end. If we can have help, that helps.”
Her teammate Salma Paralluelo echoed the calls for VAR.
“At the end of the day, VAR is a tool that makes things as fair as possible on the pitch because of the support it provides,” Paralluelo said. “Not having it can lead to wrong decisions. We need it both in the league and in the Champions League [group phase]. I think it is super necessary.”