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Flying Elbows and Bad Decisions: Premier League Officials Binned after Weekend Woe

Assistant Referee Walking Along PitchTwo Premier League match officials will be forced to sit out the next round of games after a weekend of calamity and controversy.

Constantine Hatzidakis was the assistant referee who appeared to elbow Liverpool’s Andy Robertson at half-time in the Reds’ 2-2 draw with Arsenal on Sunday.

And Michael Salisbury, who was in the VAR chair for the Tottenham vs Brighton game, has also been punished after missing what appeared to be a stonewall penalty for the Seagulls.

Hatzidakis will not be allowed to officiate in any Premier League game while an investigation into the incident on Merseyside is conducted, while Salisbury faces a one-match sanction for his mistake on Saturday.

Physical altercations between players and officials are thankfully rare, although it’s usually the player that puts their hands on the referee – as Aleksandr Mitrovic did to Chris Kavanagh in March.

That said, there was a remarkable episode earlier this month when Fernando Hernandez, a referee in Liga MX, appeared to knee Lucas Romero in a rather sensitive area during a heated game between Club America and Leon. Hernandez has since been banned from officiating for 12 games.

Although the video evidence isn’t completely clear, Hatzidakis’ flinging arm that made contact with Robertson appeared to be a ‘get away from me’ motion rather than violent conduct, so he is likely to escape such a lengthy charge as Hernandez.

The Premier League referees’ body, PGMOL, who are in charge of match day appointments, commented:

“PGMOL will not be appointing Constantine Hatzidakis to fixtures in any of the competitions it serves whilst the FA investigates the incident involving the assistant referee and Liverpool defender Andrew Robertson at Anfield.”

Unsurprisingly, there’s not a great deal of precedence for them to use in determining the outcome of the investigation.

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Meanwhile, in the capital, Salisbury was having a day to forget himself when he missed Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s blatant foul on Kaoru Mitoma in the penalty area.

The missed incident effectively cost Brighton a point while allowing Tottenham to open up a wider gap to sixth place thanks to the 2-1 win – a result that may yet cost the Seagulls a place in Europe next season.

Such split-second moments on the pitch can lead to subjective judgements, but the fact that PGMOL boss Howard Webb personally contacted officials at Brighton to apologise perhaps reveals the scale of Salisbury’s stinker.

Both head coaches, Roberto De Zerbi and interim Spurs boss Cristian Stellini were sent to the stands following a touchline bust up, but it was Salisbury’s video nasty that many will remember from the contest in the capital.

He will plenty of time to think about it as he remains on the naughty step for the next fornight….