September 5 – A highly respected former top-flight English referee has caused widespread alarm by suggesting he was told to cover up seeing controversial incidents between players.
The now retired Mark Halsey made his comments after Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero was banned for three matches by the FA for an elbow on West Ham’s Winston Reid that went unpunished at the time.
Authorities can only take retrospective action if the referee did not personally witness incidents of foul play. City have appealed against the Aguero ban as they believe the match referee Andre Marriner saw what happened. Aguero will now be ineligible to play against rivals Manchester United after the international break, on 10 September, a fixture of gigantic importance to both teams as it renews the rivalry between managers Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.
Shortly after the City-West Ham game, Halsey, who refereed in the Premier League from 1999-2013, added weight to City’s claims by alleging on Twitter: “I have been in that situation when I have seen an incident and been told to say I haven’t seen it.”
However, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the body which selects officials for matches, quickly refuted Halsey’s remarks: “There is no pressure to include or omit anything,” said a statement. “Match officials submit their reports, including critical incidents, directly to the FA. Match officials ensure that their reports are a full and accurate description of the incident.”
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