Referee Mike Dean has decided to sit out Premier League games this weekend after he and his family received death threats following recent controversial red card decisions, British media reported on Monday.
Dean was criticised after he sent off Southampton defender Jan Bednarek during their 9-0 defeat at Manchester United last Tuesday and West Ham United midfielder Tomas Soucek during Saturday’s 0-0 draw away to Fulham.
Bednarek was sent off for a last-man challenge on United forward Anthony Martial, while Soucek was dismissed after appearing to accidentally elbow Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic in the face.
Both decisions were overturned on appeal.
Mike Riley, chief of the refereeing body PGMOL, condemned the abuse directed at Dean.
“Threats and abuse of this nature are totally unacceptable and we fully support Mike’s decision to report these messages his family received to the police,” Riley said.
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“Nobody should be a victim of abhorrent messages like this. Online abuse is unacceptable in any walk of life and more needs to be done to tackle the problem.”
Dean will take charge of Leicester City’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at home to Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday, the BBC said.