RUBEN NEVES has launched a blistering attack on the shocking state of English refereeing.
“I’m not sure what is going on,” raged the Portuguese World Cup star. It feels like they don’t want us to win.”
Wolves‘ fury erupted after they crashed out of the Carabao Cup following a dramatic penalty shoot-out defeat at Nottingham Forest in midweek.
Neves believes the tie should never have made it that far after his team-mate Matheus Nunes was denied a late penalty when Emmanuel Dennis’s studs caught Nunes’ heel, ripping the midfielder’s boot off in the process.
That controversy came hard on the heels of an equally contentious FA Cup decision at Anfield on Saturday when Toti’s late ‘winner,’ was disallowed despite the fact there was no VAR camera angle to support the onfield decision.
Wolves also believe they suffered from a flawed offside call which allowed Mo Salah to score Liverpool’s second goal from a blatantly offside position.
Their simmering frustration boiled over at the City Ground and rival players clashed after Forest’s dramatic shoot-out win set up a semi-final showdown with Manchester United at Wolves’ expense.
In an astonishing post-match tirade, Neves:
- Accused referee Graham Scott of going AWOL while a post-match free-for-all broke out on his watch.
- Speculated it would require a broken leg for Wolves to be awarded a penalty.
- Claimed the image of English football has been tarnished by recent controversies.
- And challenged referees to have the courage of their convictions to explain their decisions in post-match interviews.
Wolves players feel they haven’t only been battling relegation this season, they have also been battling against officialdom.
With no VAR in operation during League Cup ties, Neves presented Scott with Nunes’ ripped boot as evidence – only to be told he could only award the foul if the offence had occurred OUTSIDE the box!
Nunes rapped: “What happened last week was a shame for English football and what happened here is really bad for English football as well.
“The referee said to me the contact was not enough for him to give a penalty.
“Maybe it was not enough for him, but how can a referee decide if the contact is enough or not?
“Maybe if I stepped on his foot, like their player stepped on Matheus, he’d ask for a foul.
“He told us if the foul was in the middle of the pitch he would give it to us but that the criteria in the box is different and the contact was not deemed to be enough.
“Do we need to start breaking legs to have penalties in football?
“I showed him Matheus’ boot, it was completely ripped!
“There’s no excuses. He didn’t give the penalty because he didn’t want to give it, that’s it.”
Neves’ mood darkened even further when his penalty was one of the two saved by Dean Henderson in the resulting shoot-out as Forest set up a glamour semi-final showdown with Man United.
Afterwards, the Portuguese ace spoke from the heart and took full responsibility for his costly miss, claiming referees should also be accountable for their actions.
Wolves are due to meet with new referees chief Howard Webb this week to flag up their concerns.
But Neves would prefer referee Graham Scott to explain his decision-making process to the public – rather than disappearing up the tunnel, to be protected by a wall of silence.
“At the end of the game everyone was fighting on the pitch and the referee was in the dressing room. That’s not normal,” said Neves.
“He should be outside seeing what is happening and which players need to have a red card. Instead he was inside while everyone was fighting.
“Now I’m here talking about my s**t penalty, and he’s going home and he will not talk to anyone. It’s too easy for them.
“For me, I’m really sad because I really wanted to help my team win but I missed my penalty, and now I’m here talking to you.
“I really wanted him to say to the public what he said to me on the pitch. He said to me that the contact is not enough.
“How can a referee see the boot coming off the foot of a player and say the contact is not enough?
“If a boot comes off, you cannot play. He would stop the game.
“I cannot shoot the ball without the boot on my foot.
“Imagine, Matheus wanted to shoot with the ball and he had no boot on his foot. How can that happen?
“That’s not normal. There’s no excuse for it.
“Even the small details. I did a foul on Aurier, I stopped in front of him and he kicked my leg, then he screamed. I got a yellow card.
“I was asking why he gave me a yellow card and he said to me ‘no worries, if they do the same it will be a yellow card as well’.
“Morgan (Gibbs-White) kicked Max (Kilman) in exactly the same way and he said it wasn’t the same.
“We saw everything on the pitch and it’s really sad. I’m going home thinking about that really poor penalty, and he’s going home and doesn’t need to talk to anybody.”
Asked for his opinion on the post-match bust-up Neves replied: “Ask the referee!
“That’s why he’s here – to see what happened – ask him if he saw something.
“I was with our fans thanking them for their support. When I turned around everyone was fighting and the referee was not on the pitch.
“He was inside and that’s a mistake. I’m sure someone would have taken a red card, and that can change the next game.
“We should have won the game in the 90 minutes, but again it’s a big decision against Wolves.
“I’m not sure what is going on, because it feels like they don’t want us to win.”