A-League: Wellington Phoenix question standard of VAR officials after red card

A controversial red card and claims of bias have prompted the Wellington Phoenix to call for high-level accountability over the A-League's video assistant referee (VAR) system.

A Ryan Lowry tackle against a Perth Glory player last night prompted a review that saw him sent off, sparking outrage and a few pointed questions from Phoenix management.

The decision left the Phoenix a man down, when they were leading 1-0 with 20 minutes to play. A few minutes later, the Glory equalised, dashing Wellington's hopes of breaking a three-match losing streak.

The Phoenix complained to Football Federation Australia immediately after last night's game.

General manager David Dome claims A-League head Greg O'Rourke admitted the call should never have been made, but it wasn't quite an apology and it wasn't enough to placate the hurting NZ franchise.

"I've spoken to Greg O'Rourke, who has admitted that they got that decision wrong, that the VAR for the red card should never have been made," says Dome.

The Phoenix will appeal the red card, but deeper issues exist.

Dome says inexperienced referees are often in charge of games involving smaller clubs like the Phoenix, while the powers of the VAR at games in the NZ capital are limited.

"If you're going to invest in that technology, then you're also going to have to invest in the people who are running it," he said.

Ryan Lowry is shown the red card
Ryan Lowry is shown the red card against Perth Glory. Photo credit: Photosport

"At the moment, what we're finding is that we've got people who aren't trained, so the VAR in Wellington does not get the same level of training that they have in Sydney.

"The more experienced referees go to the Sydney games and the Melbourne games, so what we get is a lot of officials here that don't have the same level of experience as other referees in the A-League.

"That's statistically correct - you can't argue with that."

After the game, Phoenix coach Mark Rudan was in absolute disbelief.

"It was hilarious," he said. "It was a joke - an absolute joke.

"It couldn't have been more one-sided. I have never seen anything like it.

"If he can sleep well at night, good on him, but he's cost us."

"It was a fair challenge. There was no malice in it and he has completely killed the game."

Newshub tried to get an answer from Football Federation Australia about the concerns raised by smaller clubs, but didn't get one.