Last Sunday’s top-billed fixture between Liverpool and Arsenal delivered on every front. Contested at Anfield, the match made for an enthralling watch with numerous twists and late drama.
The game was also mired in controversy, as an incident involving Reds fullback Andrew Robertson and linesman Constantine Hatzidakis made the headlines following full-time.
Goals from the Brazilian duo of Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus put Arsenal 2-0 up before Mo Salah managed to pull one back during the final minutes of the first half.
Jurgen Klopp’s side built on the momentum and dominated the second 45, eventually equalizing through Roberto Firmino’s close-range effort.
The draw held great significance for the title race, as it opened up a chance for Manchester City to pull ahead of the Gunners with their game in hand.
The match was widely discussed by fans online, and even more so was the controversial incident involving Robertson and Hatzidakis.
Andrew Robertson’s altercation with the linesman
The incident occurred shortly after the half-time whistle, as the Scotland International made a beeline toward the linesman and proceeded to voice some complaints.
While the nature of his comments remains unknown, the linesman certainly didn’t react positively.
As seen in this telling footage, Hatzidakis appears to thrust his elbow into the 29-year-old’s face.
Stunned by the reaction, Robertson immediately brought it to the attention of match referee Paul Tierney, who ended up booking the Scotsman instead.
The incident was astonishing, to say the least, the most baffling aspect being Tierney’s decision to brandish a yellow after Robertson got elbowed in the face.
It didn’t take long for the footage to go viral online, with fans demanding a resolution and for action to be taken against the linesman.
PGMOL announced a formal investigation into the matter during the second half of the game, the board also confirmed that Hatzidakis will be kept away from the touchline until further notice.
The latest on the controversy
While a concrete resolution to the matter is yet to arrive, many experts have taken a look at the footage and delivered their assessments, including veteran PL ref Mark Clattenburg.
Writing for the Daily Mail, the 48-year-old sided with his colleague and said, “I have studied the footage that the PGMOL will look at and all the angles suggest Andrew Robertson initiated contact with Constantine Hatzidakis before the official reacted by swinging his arm.”
He further went on to state, “In doing so, Hatzidakis’s elbow appeared to catch Robertson on the chin. (PGMOL chief) Howard Webb will now speak to Hatzidakis to get his side of the story. He should ask Robertson what happened, too.”
“Players can push us officials to the limit. They can provoke to the point where you are probably tempted to give them something in return. But under no circumstances can we can respond. Certainly not physically.”
The latest development in the ongoing saga has also seen the Ref Support UK, the charity committed to the support of referees, come up with a radical plant to make sure such instances doesn’t occur in the future.
According to Paul Joyce of The Times, the organisation have proposed an idea of a two-metre no-go area around officials. Players could only go inside the “exclusion zone” if invited.
The controversy is further evidence of the growing distrust and tension between players and referees.
Every match week brings about another officiating farce backed up by fiery comments from the players. And evidently, matters have now degraded to the point of altercations.
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