Referee Anthony Taylor has reportedly confessed he was conned by Raheem Sterling into giving a penalty in Liverpool's 5-3 victory at Stoke on Sunday.
Referee Anthony Taylor has privately admitted he was wrong to award Liverpool a penalty in their 5-3 win at Stoke on Sunday.
Sportsmail understands Taylor has accepted he was duped into awarding a spot-kick after Raheem Sterling went to ground under a challenge from Marc Wilson.
Meanwhile, The Sentinel reports that Stoke chairman Peter Coates said he believes referees are subconsciously favouring the bigger teams in Premier League matches:
It is well known that the big clubs, especially at home, but often away too, get the big shouts.
I am not questioning any referee's integrity, it's human nature. It's always been like that and it never changes.
Liverpool were arguably lucky to be handed the penalty at Stoke, something Brendan Rodgers even admitted, per Tom Dutton of The Evening Standard.
This season has seen refereeing decisions come under the spotlight with regularity, as highlighted in a November article by BBC Sport.
On the same day that Taylor awarded his disputed penalty to Sterling, Newcastle were controversially denied an equaliser against Manchester City that left Alan Pardew fuming.
Former ref Graham Poll has confessed, as tweeted by ITV Sport, that there was possible favouritism for big clubs during his time in the middle:
Former Premier League referee says he felt a "sense of relief" after Man United victories http://t.co/xuco3UhvQH— ITV Football (@itvfootball) January 10, 2014
The recent controversies will no doubt heighten extra calls for extra technology, something that Gary Neville believes will be beneficial:
However both of Sunday's decisions ultimately came down to opinion. No amount of technology could determine whether Sterling had to fall in the box, or whether Joe Hart was impeded by Yoan Gouffran.
In the case of Sterling, contact was clear, so it becomes human judgement as to whether it was enough to send him tumbling. In the case of Cheick Toite's goal against City, only Hart knows if he refrained from diving due to the position of Gouffran.
While it is frustrating when decisions go against a team, it is important to remember football is a game of swings and roundabouts. Every side has been an awarded an unjust penalty and been denied a stonewall one over the course of time.
In the case of Liverpool, for example, they benefited from the soft Sterling penalty, but only weeks earlier were denied a clear goalscoring opportunity against Manchester City when the same player ran clear.
Referees are human and have a split second to make a decision, sometimes they get it right, sometimes not. But they cannot afford to accuse players of conning them, as the Mail article states.
If technology is to be introduced, that too is not infallible, as cricket's hotspot has proved:
And while Stoke may feel aggrieved that a referee admitted being conned by a dive for the penalty, they can only blame themselves for the other four goals they conceded in the match.