Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi has faced criticism from former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan for his remarks about English referees following his team’s 1-1 draw against Sheffield United. Simon Adingra had initially given Brighton the lead with a remarkable solo run, but the dynamics of the game shifted after Mahmoud Dahoud received a red card in the 69th minute.

Dahoud’s misconduct, a stamp on Ben Osborn’s Achilles, led to an own goal by Adam Webster shortly afterward, lifting Sheffield United off the bottom of the table for the first time since September 23. While De Zerbi, who also received a booking for his touchline behavior, did not dispute the red card decision made by referee John Brooks, he expressed his discontent with English referees in general.

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De Zerbi stated, “I am honest and clear… I don’t like 80 per cent of English referees. That isn’t a new opinion. I don’t like them. I don’t like their behavior on the pitch. England is the only country where when there is VAR, you are not sure that the decision is right. In other countries, you have to be sure 100 per cent that the decision taken is right. In England, no, and I am not able to understand.”

In response, Simon Jordan deemed De Zerbi’s comments “ridiculous,” particularly because the Brighton boss had agreed with the referee’s decision to send Dahoud off. Speaking on talkSPORT, Jordan emphasized the need for managers to acknowledge the inherent dissent in discussions about controversial refereeing decisions after a game. He criticized De Zerbi for asserting that English refereeing standards are substandard compared to the rest of Europe without providing empirical evidence or firsthand experience in those leagues.

Jordan remarked, “You can’t really have a grown-up manager turn around and say, ‘I don’t like 80 per cent of English referees.’ Have you encountered 80 per cent of English referees, and why are you making this statement—specifically on the back of a situation where, in fact, the issue of controversy is one you agree with? I think it’s ridiculous, and again I come to the point which is, this is not really about singling out referees; this is about singling out the authority that officialdom is trying to reclaim the game.”

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