On April 8th, 2023, Tottenham hosted Brighton at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. While Spurs walked out winners, the match was surrounded by controversy as Brighton was a victim of a major VAR error.
In the 72nd minute, when the match was tied 1-1, Brighton player Kaoru Mitoma was taken down inside the Spurs penalty box by defender Pierre-Emile Højbjerg. With referee Stuart Attwell not penalizing the Tottenham defender, VAR too was not beneficial for Brighton. Michael Salisbury who was the VAR for the game ruled out a penalty for the visitors.
This was the third controversial call against Brighton during the match after two of their earlier goals were ruled out. Since then, Professional Game Match Officials Limited head Howard Webb came out and apologized to Brighton.
With Brighton seeking further clarification on the issue, referee Stuart Atwell has now been handed VAR duties for the upcoming Wolves vs Brentford game while his colleague Michael Salisbury has not been appointed. While this might seem a harsh decision, it will in some way be a relief for Brighton fans who saw their club drop down to #7th position last week.
Lewis Dunk sees no point in having VAR after this incident
Brighton defender Lewis Dunk who scored the only goal in the club’s 2-1 defeat to Tottenham came out blasting VAR. The 31-year-old said that he felt Brighton was the better team and mentioned he did not understand the decisions given during the game. Dunk said:
"“Apparently one of them hit Alexis on the hand. The other one, VAR made a tight decision, it looks like it’s above the arm. They make a decision on that but can’t make a decision on a blatant foul on Mitoma? I don’t understand VAR. The amount on this game for us and them was humongous. A blatant penalty a 1-1 they don’t give. We don’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have many more games to go. I don’t see the point of VAR in football.”"
While the match against Tottenham was disappointing for Lewis Dunk and his team, Brighton now needs to look forward and regain momentum. In their next game on April 15th, Brighton will face Chelsea under Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge.