Stuart Pearce believes the top stars at the 2018 World Cup are been given some form of ‘immunity’ from being sent off by referees, following Cristiano Ronaldo’s escape of a red card for a clear elbowing incident, Talksport. reports.
VAR controversy may dominate the headlines once again, but another big moment saw Ronaldo in problem after it looked like he swung his arm into the face of Iran’s Morteza Pouraliganji.
Pouraliganji went down and the referee checked the incident on replays, yet the 33-year-old was only given a yellow.
Iran boss, the former Manchester United assistant, Carlos Queiroz termed the decision as ‘obscure’ and said Ronaldo did not see red because of his stature in the match.
Pearce agrees with the former England captain alleging referees have been directed by FIFA to be more easygoing towards the star players in Russia.
“I don’t think many of the big stars, no matter what they do – within reason – will get sent off at this World Cup,” he said on Tuesday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast.
“FIFA have sent out a guideline to referees saying they need to protect the big stars, the big players need to play – and I think it’s almost given them immunity.
“FIFA wants to protect the best players in the tournament from bad tackles and with that protection, I think, they get a bit more tolerance, I really do.
“I think some of the big superstars now have got to do a hell of a lot to get sent off the pitch at this World Cup because referees have been guided to protect them.”