Steph Houghton: Manchester City captain says WSL's priority should be to 'raise the level' of refereeing

Manchester City and England captain Steph Houghton says the priority for the Women's Super League should be to "raise the level" of refereeing for "every game".

City were controversially beaten 2-1 by Tottenham as Spurs forward Rosella Ayane's handball inside the penalty area helped them grab a late winner.

The WSL does not use goalline technology or video assistant referees.

Houghton said the women's game deserves a "higher" standard of officials.

"Obviously, being on the other side of a refereeing decision that cost us a draw, or a point, or the potential for us to win a game and [to] end up being a defeat is not nice to take when it [the handball] was quite obvious," the 33-year-old defender said.

"I think the way our game has gone over the last few years in terms of professionalism, the fact that we train every day, the grounds that we play at, the intensity that we play at, it's only fair that we get given a fair shot of a higher level of refereeing.

"The priority for me now is to raise the level of refereeing that we have every single game."

City manager Gareth Taylor said on Sunday it was "literally two hands" from Spurs and added the decision to award the goal was "pretty incredible".

Ayane's handball is one of a number of contentious decisions in the WSL since the new season started in early September.

"For me, to make this game even better, we can try and increase [refereeing standards] as much as we can.," Houghton added.

"It's not because I was involved in an incident, there have been two or three incidents over the last few weeks in the WSL that have not been up to the standard as players, we probably expect.

"In terms of VAR, we need to put that to the back of our minds and first and foremost, we need to make sure we have the best referees that we can possibly get."

Houghton is currently with the England squad as they prepare for their World Cup qualifying opener against North Macedonia at St Mary's Stadium on 17 September.

It will be the first chance to impress new manager Sarina Wiegman and Houghton says she knows the Dutchwoman may want to choose a different captain as she aims to make her mark with the Lionesses.

"Me and Sarina had a good chat last night and fortunately, I am the captain for the next few games, which is amazing and an absolute honour," she said.

"Regardless of whether I have an armband or not, I'll still be the same leader that I'll always be for the girls."

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