SFA asks Rangers to show 'greater responsibility' in relation to safety of match officials

The war of words stemmed from a decision which took place during last Saturday's Old Firm game at Celtic Park.

SFA urge Rangers to show ‘greater responsibility’ over match official safety amid Old Firm VAR fallout SNS Group

The Scottish Football Association has hit back at Rangers over the ongoing dispute resulting from a decision in last Saturday’s Old Firm game and urged club representatives to show “greater responsibility” on such issues.

The governing body say it is “disappointed” over the contents of a statement from Rangers following a meeting on Wednesday and say it does not reflect how the meeting was conducted.

Incidents throughout Europe have been cited as examples of how the safety of match officials have been compromised.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Ibrox club said they remained “deeply concerned” over the decision making process following a meeting with SFA officials..

The fallout stems from an incident in the game at Celtic Park, which Rangers lost 2-1, when Hoops defender Alistair Johnston appeared to handle the ball in the box.

No penalty was awarded and referee Nick Walsh was not called over to the monitor to review the incident.

Footage released to Sky Sports, who were broadcasting the game live, from the VAR command centre showed that Abdallah Sima was offside in the build up to the incident, meaning any penalty awarded would have been overturned in any case.

However, after being allowed to listen to the VAR officials audio from the incident, Rangers say there was no mention of the offside and remain dismayed with the decision making process and are concerned about the “haste” in which the call was made.

The SFA say VAR officials did not deem the call to be a clear and obvious error and therefore not suitable for an on-field review.

A statement from the SFA released on Thursday said: “The Scottish FA is disappointed by contents of the most recent statement issued by Rangers in relation to a match incident during the club’s recent Premiership fixture against Celtic.

“Chief executive James Bisgrove and director of football operations Creag Robertson attended a private briefing with the head of referee operations, Crawford Allan, to review the incident in question, including the use of matchday audio.

“We understood from the chief executive that the meeting had been constructive and informative, and conducted amicably.

“This does not appear to be reflected in the club’s statement.

“During the meeting, it was pointed out that the incident in question was a subjective handball and that the VAR did not deem it a sufficiently clear and obvious error to refer to On Field Review.

“Furthermore, the offside would not have been mentioned at the time as it was not part of the VAR’s decision-making on the handball.

“It was highlighted within Clydesdale House that had the VAR considered the incident to be a handball offence and asked the referee to carry out an On Field Review, the Attacking Phase of Play would have been checked and an offside would have been identified.

“This supplementary information was relayed to broadcasters in-game, and we are reviewing the process of information dissemination to avoid any perceived ambiguity in future.

“There was an overall consensus that the incident could not have led to a penalty kick being awarded in any event, and that there was no impact on the final outcome of the match.

“Scotland’s VAR protocol is in many ways modelled on the PGMOL system, and we are in regular dialogue with our colleagues in England on knowledge sharing and improvements.

“VAR has been operational in Scotland for just over a year, whilst it has been operational in England for more than four.

“Since the summer, we have ensured that Key Match Incidents are reviewed and shared with all clubs after every full round of 11 Premiership fixtures, including use of audio.

“We will continue to do this, along with KMI being shared with the Independent Review Panel for their consideration and opinion.

“Finally, we note posts from a recent official media partner of the club’s detailing requests from the private meeting that were immediately rejected.

“We would ask that club representatives show greater responsibility in such matters, especially in the context of recent incidents in European football that have compromised the safety of match officials and led to widespread condemnation.”

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