Lee Mason has left the referees’ body PGMOL by mutual consent, following his mistake made Arsenal’s match against Brentford.
Mason, who had officiated over 500 fixtures since joining the Football League in 1998, was serving as the Video Assistant Referee when he failed to check for offside on Ivan Toney’s equaliser.
The error has drawn criticism from fans and experts alike, leading to Mason’s departure from the organisation although it is not solely due to this one mistake. He was also the VAR when Arsenal had a perfectly good goal ruled out against Manchester United earlier this season, another error that was admitted after the game.
PGMOL, which oversees refereeing in the Premier League, thanked Mason for his dedicated service to the game and wished him well for the future.
The 51-year-old had been a Premier League referee for 15 years, taking charge of 287 top-flight matches during his career.
The mistake made during the Arsenal-Brentford match caused controversy, with Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta calling it a “horrendous VAR decision.”
PGMOL Statement: Lee Mason pic.twitter.com/u06YKeDx5S
— PGMOL (@FA_PGMOL) February 17, 2023
Arsenal dropped to second in the table after they were beaten 3-1 by Manchester City in midweek, further damaging their title hopes.
PGMOL’s chief refereeing officer, Howard Webb, contacted Arsenal to apologise and explain the significant error that had occurred.
However, Arteta rejected the apology, stating that it was not acceptable, and added that the mistake had cost his team two points that would not be restored.
He further criticised Mason’s understanding of his job, stating that “it wasn’t human error, it was not understanding your job.
“It cost Arsenal two points that are not going to be restored so we are going to have to find those two points somewhere else in the league.”
The incident has once again sparked debate about the use of VAR in the game, with many fans and experts calling for changes to the system. The technology has been introduced to reduce mistakes made by referees and ensure that the correct decisions are made, but its implementation has been marred by controversies and inconsistencies.
Mason’s departure from PGMOL serves as a reminder that mistakes can have severe consequences in professional football. It also highlights the importance of ensuring that the referees and officials involved in the game are competent and able to carry out their roles effectively.
While the technology has the potential to improve the game, it is clear that more work needs to be done to ensure that it is used correctly and consistently.
Ultimately, the focus must be on improving the quality of refereeing and officiating in the sport, which will benefit everyone involved.