Sutton fires back at Souness for VAR Old Firm claims

Sutton fires back at Souness for VAR Old Firm claims

Former Celtic player Chris Sutton has claimed that Graeme Souness' comments stating that he was trying to influence someone on VAR during last weekend's Old Firm game were naive.

Celtic and Rangers played out an intense match at Ibrox last weekend, which ended 3-3. One significant moment was Rangers player Fabio Silva's claim for a penalty. VAR deemed there wasn't enough contact to award the spot-kick.

Sutton criticised Silva's fall in the Celtic box, describing it as embarrassing during his punditry. "This would be embarrassing if a penalty is given," the former Celtic star remarked while on commentary duty. "Silva is already on his way down. Of course it's not a clear and obvious error," Sutton added.

Souness, an ex-Rangers player, responded to Sutton's comments, expressing disbelief at his bias towards Rangers and suggesting that his remarks could influence VAR officials in the Scottish Premier League. "I'm reluctant to criticise Chris Sutton strongly because he attended a charity event for me two weeks ago, and we chatted; he's funny. I thank him again for that. But I can't believe how biassed Chris is when he's talking about Rangers. He was saying, 'it's embarrassing; it's not a penalty.' It was easily a penalty. It's not even a discussion for me," said Souness.

"And here's a question. Do VAR officials listen to the commentary for the game? Because I'm thinking, "Chris is going that strong here; he's trying to influence whoever is listening, maybe in the VAR," he added.

Talksport presenter Jim White clarified that VAR officials can't hear the commentary, but Souness persisted, suggesting, "I thought 'Chris is gone that mad on this; he's trying to influence someone on VAR who is listening.'"

Broadcaster Graeme Souness l(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

In response to Souness' claims, Sutton laughed off suggestions that he was attempting to influence officials, stating, “I have a lot of respect for Graeme as a player, manager, and pundit. But he is talking utter nonsense to suggest I was trying to somehow influence VAR. It would have been better if Nick Walsh WAS watching Sky Sports, as the officials might have made the right call rather than rewarding cheating."

“I don’t know what he was watching when he called Beaton to the monitor, but it certainly wasn’t the TV coverage. Even in the unlikely event if they were, I’m not sure what kind of power Graeme thinks I wield. Does he think I’m God?! I don’t have that kind of sway, unfortunately. Give me another few months!"

Sutton also emphasised that it wasn't a matter of allegiance to Celtic or Rangers, explaining further why he didn't believe it was a penalty. “In seriousness, it wasn’t a Celtic thing or a Rangers thing; I just called that incident as I saw it. If anything, I suspect Graeme has the Rangers blinkers on, as there is no way he’d think that was a penalty if any other team was involved. And having watched it over and over again, NOTHING has changed my mind about the incident. It is still not a penalty kick.

“Johnston clearly gets a touch on the ball and redirects its path. Silva sees the leg out and takes his chance to throw himself into it. Silva initiated the slight contact, and are we supposed to reward simulation or stamp it out?

“He was rolling around all afternoon, and this was another example. His behaviour was embarrassing. Beaton was close to the scene, and his initial interpretation was spot on."

Sutton also believes that the fact that people can even debate a foul like that, which is not clear and obvious, is another reason why it shouldn't have been given. “He could see it in real time, and he was right to show him a yellow card for yet another dive. I just can’t understand why Walsh got involved. The fact people can even debate it means it wasn’t a clear and obvious error from the referee in the first place.”

“The clip shown by Sky is the clip the referee is showing. And that is where I see a problem as well, as that clip didn’t include the ball being knocked away by Johnston’s outstretched boot first of all. It was totally misleading, as it wasn’t the full incident. When you watch all of it, there is not a single angle that convinces me it was a penalty kick.”