Gianluca Rocchi is the target of much criticism in the Netherlands after his game-changing refereeing performance in Chelsea’s 4-4 draw with Ajax.
Rocchi was at the centre of proceedings as the Blues fought back from three goals down to rescue a valuable point, aided by the visitors conceding two penalties AND having two men sent off.
While the first spot kick was a sure thing, the second – for a handball by Joel Veltman – was far less certain, and the defender being sent off for what looked to be a minor offence seemed truly unfair.
His dismissal came seconds after Daley Blind was also shown red for a second bookable offence, having brought down Tammy Abraham just outside the penalty area.
Both cards Blind received were fair, but it is no surprise the Ajax players crowded Rocchi in the wake of the double dismissal.
And the referee’s showing at Stamford Bridge has been the big subject in the Netherlands today, according to former Chelsea and Holland star Bolo Zenden.
Speaking to talkSPORT’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast, Zenden said: “In Holland, where most the people are for Ajax, they’re all complaining about the referee and that Chelsea were given an opportunity to come back into the game.
“In all fairness, Chelsea did well after Ajax went down by two men.
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“But if Blind is on a yellow card why take the risk of getting a second yellow? The second yellow for Veltman is a bit harsh; you are already getting a penalty so why also send him off. That was a bit harsh.
“But other than that, Chelsea fought their way back into the game.”
Chelsea were also affected by Rocchi and his officiating team, as VAR ruled out what could have been a winning goal, scored by Cesar Azpilicueta to make it 5-4.
The referee adjudged that an infraction had occurred in the build-up to the strike after viewing the pitch-side monitor, and the scoreline was returned to 4-4.
It stayed that way until full-time.
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VAR has been hugely contentious since being introduced into English football – it debuted in the Premier League this season after a couple of years being trialled in cup competitions – and Zenden admits there have been similar problems with the technology in the Eredivisie as well.
He added: “It should have made the game more honest, but – and this is also in Holland – the decisions at times take too long, and the players are afraid of celebrating because they are not sure.
“It’s not going the right way, and we have to try and make it more honest, like the goal line technology when it’s ‘is it in or is it not?’
“Sometimes with the VAR we see the dots and lines [for offsides] are not even straight! I mean, come on… how hard can it be with today’s technology?”
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