Sport Soccer

Wednesday 21 August 2019

WATCH: Irish referee Alan Kelly at centre of controversy in New York derby

Cork-born MLS referee Alan Kelly. Photo: Getty
Cork-born MLS referee Alan Kelly. Photo: Getty

Stephen Bennett

Irish referee Alan Kelly was embroiled in controversy during last night's Major League Soccer clash between New York Red Bulls and New York City.

Corkman Kelly, who has been named MLS Referee of the Year three times over the past four years, was at the centre of a controversial call in awarding the lead goal to Red Bulls despite the home side taking a thrown-in instead of a corner.

During the action, a New York City defender is seen kicking the ball out of play, for which the linesman Corey Rockwell clearly awards a corner kick to Red Bulls.

However, the home side took a thrown-in that eventually led to a Daniel Royer header that found the net in the 60th minute - a goal that won the derby match for Red Bulls on a 2-1 scoreline.

Kelly - who refereed in the League of Ireland for 14 years before making the move to officiate in the United States in 2014 - decided that the goal would stand, ignoring angry and lengthy protests from NYC players.

The Red Bulls overcame an early City goal with an equaliser just before half-time, but it was their lead goal that left NYC fuming.

Furious New York City head coach Dome Torrent had to be restrained by his own players as he made two attempts to confront Kelly after the match.

"I said 'You made a mistake, and you know that'," said Torrent.

"He decided the game. I said to him 'You decided the game and you know that. You decided the game. You are not brave, you decided the game.'

"What is the reason why? Maybe he made a mistake, and it's not a corner. I accept that. But when you say corner, two, three seconds and tell my player it's a corner, it's a mistake."

Torrent added: "Today, I'm so sorry for the soccer because it's not fair what happened in this game," Torrent said.

"I don't like to talk about the referees, but it's impossible not to talk about the referees tonight. Everybody knows what happened. If you have a doubt, you can watch the TV. It's clear.

"What happened after that maybe is our mistake, but it's not easy when they say corner because you are ready for the corner and not the throw-in."

Responding to written questions from the media after the match, Kelly stated that he overruled the initial call for a corner, and claimed to verbally announce that a throw-in was awarded.

Kelly also noted that throw-ins and corner kick decisions are not reviewable by VAR.

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