Western Sydney Wanderers coach Markus Babbel claims an ongoing 'conspiracy' against his club contributed to the 2-1 loss to the Wellington Phoenix on Saturday night.
The Sydney club suffered their fourth consecutive A League defeat but it was in controversial circumstances at Eden Park.
The deciding goal came in the 89th minute, from a questionable Phoenix penalty given by the referee, via VAR.
• Football: Wellington Phoenix edge Western Sydney Wanderers in A-League clash at Eden Park
• Football: Why Lithuania presents a unique challenge for revamped All Whites
• Football: Wellington Phoenix captain Steven Taylor's bold claim ahead of Eden Park clash
• Football: Wellington Phoenix claim upset A-League victory over Adelaide United
"It's hard to accept," fumed Babbel. "It's the third time in a row now. I understand every single player who says they don't want to play anymore [last night]. I have to apologise to my players."
"Three weeks ago I said something publicly. Once can happen, twice, but not three times in a row. I think that is a bit personal against me."
Babbel was disciplined by the A League on Friday, following an expletive-laden outburst in a press conference, after what he felt was another poor decision, and implied after Saturday's game that the match officials seem to be targeting his team.
"[These are] decisions against you, and really bad decisions, I can't say it any different," said Babbel. "The frustration is there, because you have the feeling you play against 12 players. This is what we have to swallow and keep going."
"You have a feeling [sitting] on the bench. You know if something goes wrong it is against us. The problem is you can't enjoy the game anymore. At the moment I can't enjoy it, not because of the result but because of the influence from outside."
The decision to award the spot kick wasn't the worst this year, but it was definitely debatable.
Phoenix midfielder Ulises Davila had jinked into the box, before unleashing a left footed shot. It struck the hand of defender Pirmin Schwegler, but he was very close to the Mexican and didn't appear to move his arm in a deliberate way.
"The hand was on the ball but it was two metres [away], very close with the arm from his body, come on?" said Babbel. "You get frustrated. You can't tell me this is bad luck. It's too often now. Too often against us and there is something in between it, that's my opinion."
Babbel said he was previously supportive of VAR coming into A League, but not anymore.
"[There has been] too many decisions; in one game yes, in another game no," said Babbel. "There is no line there. How many bad decisions after this, that cost you a lot."
Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay backed the referees' interpretation.
"The rules are if it hits your hand, and your hand is away from your body, then it is the referees' call to make a decision," said Talay.
"The rules have changed now and everyone is trying to adapt. We conceded a penalty when it wasn't a handball against Melbourne City so it is a little bit back and forth and sometimes we have to live with the decision."
While the circumstances of the penalty may have been unfortunate, it capped a strong comeback by the Phoenix who were all at sea in the first half.
They could have easily been one or two goals down at halftime – only kept in it by the brilliance of goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic – before gaining vital impetus from Jaushua Sotirio's well taken 47th minute goal.
The Wanderers replied through striker Nicolai Muller 20 minutes later, but the Phoenix looked the more threatening in the final phases of the game.
"It was a hard fought win," said Talay. "Defensively [we gave them] too much time and space in between our lines [in the first half], [but] we fixed that."