Yaya Toure launched a scathing attack on the standard of refereeing in England after claiming that the decisions of Craig Pawson cost Manchester City a place in the FA Cup final, following Sunday’s 2-1 extra-time defeat by Arsenal, and insisted that this week’s derby against Manchester United would be better off without any officials.
City saw what looked to be a perfectly legal goal ruled out when Leroy Sane’s cross was judged to have gone over the line and out of play before bending back in-field and allowing Sergio Aguero to strike the ball over the goalline.
Video replays showed that the entirety of the ball had not gone out of play, and City’s frustration was compounded when Alexis Sanchez struck in extra-time to send Arsenal through to the Wembley final against Chelsea next month.
City’s frustration stretched further as they believed that the influential midfielder, David Silva, was intentionally targeted by an unusually robust Arsenal side, with the Spaniard forced off with injury before half-time.
The controversy led Toure to speak out against the standard of refereeing in England, and he went as far as to suggest that this week’s Manchester derby would be better off without a referee at all.
"I think the referees have to stop this,” Toure said after the semi-final loss at Wembley. “I am very disappointed. It is not the first time, there have been a couple of times.
"If we have to talk about referees, people are going to say 'we complain' but when we see the highlights, for me it is very disappointing.
"Maybe on Thursday we are going to have a better referee or maybe play without a referee - I'd prefer that."
Toure was asked to expand on his thoughts over the decision to rule out Aguero’s goal, and in particular if he felt the ball had not crossed the line before reaching the Argentine.
"Definitely, and it was a penalty and something more,” he added.
"But what can we do? If (we) talk about the referee the FA is going to come in for the punishment if we think like that, but I think I need to sleep and rest and forget this game.”
Toure’s comments could attract interest from the Football Association, although the midfield did stop short of directly criticising Pawson and would be unlikely to receive any ban. His manager, Pep Guardiola, was much more reserved after the match and would not talk about Pawson’s performance, and instead he wanted to congratulate Arsenal and stress that City will be stronger next year to challenge for silverware.
First though, they must earn their place in next season’s Champions League, and this Thursday’s Manchester derby against United will go a long way to deciding who makes up the top four come the end of the season, given Jose Mourinho’s side can ill-afford to slip up and drop four points off their city rivals.
"It is a very big game, an important game,” Toure acknowledged, before allowing his frustration to get the better of him again. “We have to do that job and we will see what can happen. We hope we are going to have a good referee."