Con Hatzidakis, the assistant referee involved in an incident with Liverpool’s Andy Robertson, has been met with a mixed response from the footballing community. Martin Cassidy, the Chief Executive Officer of Ref Support UK, believes that the punishment Hatzidakis has received is “enough” and that his career “could be in jeopardy” if found guilty. Former Premier League referee Keith Hackett also believes that the incident has been “blown a little bit out of proportion”.
However, former Blackburn striker Chris Sutton believes that Hatzidakis “has to be banned” for his actions. Rory Smith, a New York Times football writer, has also commented on the situation, saying that the suggestion that Hatzidakis should lose his job is “excessive”.
Cassidy has suggested that football should introduce an “exclusion zone” around referees which would stop players getting too close. He believes that this would make the game less aggressive and more productive. He also believes that only captains should be allowed to speak to officials.
The incident follows the eight-game ban given to Fulham striker Alexsandar Mitrovic, who pushed a referee during a match against Manchester United. However, Robertson was not suspended for his part in the incident.
It is clear that there is a need for tougher rules and regulations when it comes to player-referee interactions. Cassidy believes that Hatzidakis has been punished enough, but it is important to remember that referees are the guardians of standards and should be treated accordingly. The introduction of an exclusion zone could help to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.