AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella was fuming Sunday as he claimed captain Leonardo Bonucci was sent off with a first “made for television” red card using the video assistant referee in Serie A.
Italian international Bonucci could be seen on replays elbowing Genoa’s Aleandro Rosi in the face on 25 minutes with the red card changing the course of the game and possibly Montella’s career.
As AC Milan plunge to 11th in Serie A the goalless draw could have implications for under-pressure Montella’s future with the Chinese-owned club.
“The referees have this technology now, they want to look good and massage their egos by giving red cards, so be televisual all the way,” Montella told Sky Sport Italia and Mediaset Premium said after the game.
“I think VAR is bringing good things, but we have to decide if we are in a televisual world or one on the pitch.
“I don’t want to look like the kind of guy who complains about the referees. Bonucci was surprised. It wasn’t a very clear image. You can’t say he elbowed him on purpose.”
Montella conceded his future is in doubt despite reassurances from senior officals at the club.
“This is an episode that can change my career. We are paying a heavy price for incidents and situations are going against us, but we can get out of this moment and we proved that today.”
The right to award a red card is one of the four cases where VAR — being used since the beginning of the season in the Italian and German leagues — can be used.
It can also be used to confirm a goal is valid, a penalty situation or to correct a case of mistaken identity if a player is sanctioned.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri complained earlier this month that video refereeing was turning football into a long-drawn out American sports extravaganza.
“We’ll end up like baseball in the United States, where there are constant stoppages and we sit there eating nuts until the match ends at midnight,” said Allegri.
However, Genoa coach Ivan Juric said on Sunday that the system may need tweaks.
“I have always been in favour, it is a positive and improvable thing, but it leaves many doubts,” he said.
In Germany, meanwhile, on Sunday, the game between Hertha Berlin and Freiburg 1-1 with both goals decided after a VAR intervention.
Hosts Freiburg took the lead on 52 minutes when the VAR confirmed Christian Guenter had been fouled in the penalty area and Janik Haberer drilled home from the spot.
At the other end, Ivory Coast veteran Salomon Kalou Kalou fired a penalty effort over the bar on 77 minutes after Berlin midfielder Arne Maier was brought down in the area.
However just four minutes later, Kalou took his chance to make amends by converting a spot kick after a second penalty was awarded to Berlin.
This time, the VAR spotted Hertha’s Davie Selke had been fouled in the area and ex-Chelsea striker Kalou made no mistake this time.
“I said to our manager, ‘I think we’re jinxed’ after Salomon missed the first penalty, but then he had the balls to take the second one and convert it,” said Hertha coach Pal Dardai.