Melbourne City striker Jamie Maclaren has hit out at the standard of refereeing decisions and VAR in A-League games, calling for officials to face the same public scrutiny as players and coaches.
Speaking on The Grandstand Football Podcast, Maclaren was asked for his thoughts about the consistency of officiating in the league.
“As a player, if I was to miss a chance or if I was to get a red card — players are in the spotlight — you get the magnifying glass [out] and people start to pinpoint things,” he said.
“At post-match interviews you get asked the harder-hitting questions, like you’re asking me now …
“Now I have a question for the officials… they finish the game and they can just hop in their car and drive home without explaining their decisions.
“So coaches just lose their job because of these sort of decisions; players, their futures are [affected by them]. It’s a tough one to speak about because it does annoy me.
He pointed to last weekend’s match at Hindmarsh Stadium, where Adelaide United were given two controversial penalties in a 3-2 win over Central Coast Mariners.
“For me, the first two [penalties] the other night at Adelaide United, I can’t see how VAR has given Mauky’s (skipper Stefan Mauk) first one,” Maclaren said.
“And I’m the same, I try to milk penalties sometimes, but that was beyond [what’s acceptable].
“Mauky copped some abuse which he shouldn’t have and he did rightfully put that stuff on his social media. It’s uncalled for.
Mariners coach Alen Stajcic said after the game his players probably felt they had been “robbed”.
Referees boss Strebre Delovski later reportedly stated officials were wrong to award two penalties to Mauk.
Delovski told Nine referee Adam Fielding should not have given the first penalty because Mauk initiated contact with the defender, and the video assistant referee should have called on Fielding to review the decision.
In the other incident, Mariners midfielder Josh Nisbet was penalised for bringing down Mauk — but Delovski said both players were holding each other.
“You need to have these referees to come out, face the media, face the questions from you guys and say this is why we gave these penalties,” Maclaren said on the podcast.
“At the end of the day, if I was Alen Stajcic … rightly so, he walked off and declined to speak to Fox Sports and probably speak to Robbie [Cornthwaite].
“Because he would have said something he regretted and … it’s not good enough.”
Maclaren said he had friends watching the A-League from the UK, who were messaging him saying they were turning their TV off, because the VAR and officiating were “embarrassing”.
“So if guys are like that in the UK watching that, I can only imagine how bad it is for people at home and our fans.
“We want to grow this game but it’s killing our game.”