After being involved in a controversial disallowed goal as the referee in Saturday’s match between West Bromwich Albion and Brighton, Lee Mason has withdrawn as fourth official for today’s Sheffield United vs. Liverpool match.
According to reports, the withdrawal is due to an injury suffered during the match, though given Mason was able to see out Saturday’s game it seems somewhat surprising he would not be able to take on fourth official duties today.
Saturday’s incident in the West Brom vs. Brighton match was of interest to many Liverpool fans as it saw a goal similar to one scored against Liverpool last season instead waved off by the referee when he deemed the West Brom goalkeeper wasn’t set on a free kick and blew play dead as a shot by Brighton’s Lewis Dunk sailed towards the net.
Last season, in Liverpool’s December match against Brighton, referee Martin Atkinson gave goalkeeper Alisson a red card for handling outside the box. Adrian replaced him but did not appear set when Atkinson signalled play could commence and Dunk scored from the free kick.
For Mason on Saturday, after initially signalling to Dunk that play could commence, he appeared to realise the West Brom goalkeeper wasn’t set and changed his mind, blowing his whistle again to stop play after the shot had been taken.
“It’s embarrassing,” was Dunk’s reaction to the confusion and disallowed goal following the match. “It’s a horrendous decision, I said to the ref can I take it, he blew his whistle and I took it. Why doesn’t he come and speak to the press like me? They hide behind their bubble. I don’t think he knew what he was doing.”
It’s the latest moment of controversy surrounding officiating decisions and VAR in a Premier League season that has at times seemed to be more about the referees than the actual football on display.
Mason as fourth official for today’s Liverpool game would have likely made him a major talking point in television coverage. His withdrawal due to injury perhaps relegates the controversy of Saturday’s West Brom vs. Brighton match to a minor footnote.