Football: Women's game treated like 'second-class citizens' without VAR, laments English manager

Chelsea's Magdalena Eriksson (right) being shown a yellow card during the Women's Super League match against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sept 5, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - England's Women's Super League (WSL) players are being treated like "second-class citizens" due to the absence of the video assistant referee (VAR) system and goal-line technology, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said.

The champions lost 3-2 to Arsenal on Sunday (Sept 5) at the Emirates Stadium as the new season of the women's league - which now has a major new broadcast deal - got under way.

Hayes said there were plenty of positives for the league, especially with over 8,000 fans in attendance, but was less pleased about the lack of technology to help officials after Arsenal striker Bethany Mead looked offside before she scored their third goal.

"The negative is that by putting our product in such a brilliant place, everyone is asking why we don't have goal-line technology or why we don't have VAR," she told reporters.

"I heard that there was a conversation around it not being a priority because it's really expensive, but I think we're selling our game short.

"We have all got used to VAR and goal-line technology, so I feel by not having it in the women's game is like being second-class citizens."

VAR, which was used at the 2019 Women's World Cup, made its debut in the English Premier League in the 2019-20 season. Goal-line technology has been in place in the men's top flight since the 2013-14 season.

The new three-year broadcast deal, reported to be worth £8 million (S$14.9 million) per season, will see WSL games broadcast live on subscription platform Sky Sports and by the free-to-air BBC, which the league hopes will boost ratings and the popularity of the WSL, whose title sponsor is Barclays.

"We scored two goals at the Emirates and had 15 shots, so created chances but you can't concede three goals and expect to win games," said Hayes.

Vivianne Miedema gave the home side the lead in the 14th minute, latching on to a pass down the left wing from Katie McCabe before firing home low at the far post for her 61st goal in 68 WSL games for Arsenal.

Erin Cuthbert equalised for Chelsea before the break with a goal in the 44th minute. Arsenal looked to have sealed it with two goals from Mead in the first 15 minutes of the second half, but a brilliantly-timed header by Pernille Harder in the 64th minute set up a grandstand finish.

Chelsea threw everything forward in the closing minutes but despite getting dangerous balls into the box, the closest they came was a Sam Kerr header straight at goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger.

In the other game on Sunday, West Ham's Hawa Cissoko was sent off as Brighton eased past the visitors 2-0 with first-half strikes from Inessa Kaagman and Lee Geum-min.

Cissoko was adjudged to have handled a goal-bound shot in the 34th minute and the resultant penalty was calmly dispatched by Kaagman.

Brighton doubled their advantage seven minutes later, with Lee scoring from close range following some sloppy defending by West Ham.

Manchester City top the table after their 4-0 win over Everton on Saturday with Brighton joint-second with Manchester United, who beat Reading 2-0.

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