Ex-Hearts boss among pundits raging at shocking refereeing decision in Scotland-Ukraine clash
Former Hearts boss Craig Levein was among those to condemn match official Maurizio Mariani for a dreadful decision not to show a red card to Ukraine’s Vladimir Bodnar in their clash against Scotland.
With the first half drawing to a close in the Nations League encounter, Che Adams burst through the Ukrainian rearguard as he threatened to go in on goal. The Southampton forward was cynically and brutally taken out by Bodnar, who led with a forearm as he launched himself into Adams, running at full speed.
The 26-year-old was in immediate distress as he required lengthy treatment, yet Mariani chose only to punish the foul with a yellow card. VAR was in operation for the match at Hampden Park, but the video officials decided not to intervene.
Appearing on BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound programme, Levein – who also managed Scotland – explained why it was more than just a regular cynical foul.
"That challenge, there was such ferocity in it, that it was an absolute certain red card,” he said. “If it he just trying to block him he would have moved on the half-turn, put his arm across him, run into it and brought him down.
"You don’t run into the guy, face on, and stick your elbow into his chest. He’s running at some speed as well. If he catches him in the throat then Che Adams is in big trouble."
Levein’s BBC colleague Tom English believed the decision was down to a wider lack of progression in football regarding head injuries.
“This is why football has a long way to go with brain injuries. I’m not saying it’s one here, but it could have been,” he said.
"That’s a straight red and nobody is arguing about it in rugby. Football is just way behind. You have to protect players. The referees and the officials have let Che Adams down badly there.”
Leeann Crichton also queried why the referee didn’t take into account the nature of the treatment being carried out on Adams.
"The doctors and physios treated that as a spinal injury,” she said. “You can see they’re holding on to the head, making sure he’s compos mentis. Surely that bit is where the referee goes, ‘that’s a bad challenge’. It’s duty of care.”