'The referees are just not very good': Souness and Lennon slam officials

VAR and officials are in the spotlight again after a busy weekend.

Graeme Souness and Neil Lennon have slammed the standard of refereeing in Scotland, with Souness saying that VAR technology is “showing them up” for poor decision-making.

Officials were in the spotlight after Hearts’ 2-0 victory over Celtic in the Premiership on Sunday, when a series of controversial decisions led to Brendan Rodgers bemoaning “really, really poor officiating” and “incompetence” he feels can damage the Scottish game.

The match at Tynecastle threw up a series of talking points, with Celtic awarded an early penalty which Zander Clark saved before Yang Hyun-gyu was sent off for a high boot on Alex Cochrane.

Referee Don Robertson had initially shown a yellow card but was invited by VAR official John Beaton to review the incident on the pitchside monitor and subsequently upgraded the punishment to a red card.

Hearts were then awarded a penalty for a handball by Tomoki Iwata when he made contact with the ball after being bumped by Alistair Johnston as players jostled in the box.

The decisions have fuelled the ongoing debate about the use of the system and former Rangers, Liverpool, Newcastle and Galatasaray boss Souness, speaking ahead of the Viaplay Cup quarter-finals, said that VAR was highlighting a lack of ability in Scottish referees.

“The referees are just not very good,” he said. “VAR compounds the problem and shows them up.

“You get the chance to look at something time and time again and from different angles and you’re still making the wrong call. That’s telling you something is not right.

“VAR is not a big giant computer sitting in a room that’s following all the right decisions. It’s an assist for a human to make that call. And the humans are still making the wrong calls even with all this technology.

“It’s just showing them in a bad light and shows they don’t know too much.

“VAR is just embarrassing them. Who would want to be a referee today?”

Lennon was at Tynecastle on Sunday for the controversial clash and believes that Robertson made numerous major mistakes.

“You have to say that all of the decisions, apart from the offside for Lawrence Shankland, were wrong,” the former Celtic boss said.

“I didn’t think Celtic’s was a penalty. I certainly didn’t think it was a red card because there’s no real intent from Yang. He’s just trying to flick the ball over Cochrane’s head.

“A yellow card would have sufficed. I don’t understand.

“I know people are saying he’s endangering the player. He wasn’t.

“I’ve seen people endanger others with high boots. That certainly wasn’t the case from Yang.

“And the penalty that Hearts got was beyond belief. Iwata has got his eyes closed and he’s been bumped by Johnston. The ball lands on his arm and they come to the conclusion it’s a penalty.

“So I understand Brendan’s frustrations. The bigger picture is that they need to play better away from home as well.”

Lennon expects Hampden bosses to go back over the key moments and believes the whole process, as well as the individual decisions, need to be looked it.

“I’m sure there will be a review into that performance yesterday,” he said. “It’s not the technology, that’s fine.

“And the people in the stadium, who don’t see it, the fans are the paying customer and there needs to be more messages getting across to them.

“I think there has to be questions asked about the refereeing performance yesterday. Just on his decision making more than anything else.”

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