Former national coach Kevin Fallon believes New Zealand’s underdog status worked against the All Whites, putting them at a disadvantage when it came to crucial decisions in the World Cup play-off with Costa Rica.
“When a smaller nation plays a bigger nation, and Costa Rica is a much bigger football nation than we are, they (officials) always seem to get influenced by the more experienced players.
“If Barcelona is playing Gisborne City, they listen to Barcelona players and they did that with the New Zealand players and I think they were robbed,” Fallon has told RNZ news.
Fallon, who helped coach the 1982 All Whites to the FIFA World Cup finals in Spain, isn’t a fan of VAR and says decisions can work against underdogs.
In New Zealand’s 1-0 loss to Costa Rica in Doha, the VAR review panel of three Qatar officials conferred with Dubai referee Mohammed Abdulla Hassan Mohamed to make critical decisions including disallowing a goal by striker Chris Wood, and the sending off of Kosta Barbarouses.
Straight after the game, All Whites coach Danny Hay was careful when interviewed by sideline reporters, saying he thought the officiating was “pretty average” and he would let the people make up their own minds.
But after time to reflect, Hay was extremely direct at the post-match media conference.
“If I’m being honest. I thought some of the officiating was absolutely atrocious.
“The disallowed goal was two players battling for the ball. The foul could have gone to Matt Garbett to start with. Obviously, VAR got involved and overturned that.”
He said he thought FIFA had made a mistake in appointing the referee for such an important game.
Captain Winston Reid said: “I wish Fifa – for a game like this – had given us someone with more experience.”