Assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis has been stood down from any matches while the Football Association investigates an incident in which he appeared to elbow Liverpool defender Andy Robertson. The incident occurred at the end of the first half in Sunday’s 2-2 Premier League draw with Arsenal. Refereeing body PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) said it would “review the matter in full” and “will not be appointing Constantine Hatzidakis to fixtures in any of the competition” during the FA investigation.
Several pundits have spoken out about the incident, with former Blackburn striker Chris Sutton saying that Hatzidakis “has to be banned” and former Manchester midfielder Roy Keane calling Robertson a “big baby”. Former Premier League referee Keith Hackett believes that if Hatzidakis is found guilty, his career could be in jeopardy, and suggested that the FA convene a meeting this week to resolve the issue by the weekend.
Writing in the Daily Mail, former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg said that Robertson “initiated contact” with Hatzidakis, but added that under no circumstances can officials respond physically. Clattenburg believes that Hatzidakis did not mean to catch Robertson with his elbow, but that there will be a clamour for him to be banned if he is found guilty.
The incident has sparked a debate on whether Hatzidakis should face a ban, and what length of ban would be appropriate. It is clear that PGMOL will take the matter seriously and will investigate it thoroughly, and it remains to be seen what punishment, if any, will be handed down to Hatzidakis. In the meantime, he will not be involved in any matches while the investigation is ongoing.