Premier League assistant referee admits ‘feeling threatened’ during recent Leeds United win
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Wolves were hit with a £57,500 fine for their role in skirmishes at the end of Leeds’ 4-2 win at Molineux this season, whilst United escaped without punishment. The FA have published written reasons for the Wolves fine, citing ‘aggression and intimidation’ as a factor in the decision to reprimand the Premier League club.
Tempers flared on the touchline during the 98th minute of the match when Leeds forward Rodrigo broke through to score the Whites’ fourth goal of the afternoon. Members of the Wolves backroom team deemed Adama Traore to have been fouled by Marc Roca in the build-up to the goal as the Spaniard appeared to pull his fellow countryman’s shirt.
Referee Michael Salisbury reviewed the decision to award the goal on the pitchside VAR monitor and opted to remain with his on-field decision, which was met by vehement protests in the home side’s technical area.
In the melee that followed, unused substitute Matheus Nunes was shown a straight red card, for what was perceived to have been threatening behaviour towards assistant referee Gary Beswick.
Beswick wrote in his Extraordinary Incident Report, recently published by the FA: “In the 90+8 minute of the game Leeds score their 4th goal and I am positioned a yard or 2 from the halfway line in front of the Wolves technical area. The Wolves head coach came towards me aggressively remonstrating as he felt there was a foul in the build up.”
"I was aware of 2 other members of (whom I believe to be) technical staff to my left so I tried to use calm body language to defuse the situation and slowly step backwards. At this point I felt someone from behind lean into me with their chest and deliberately barge me in in the back in what I deemed an act of aggression and intimidation, also to pen me in, preventing my movement and this made me feel threatened.
"As I turned around I identified the person, who had moved from the technical area to be stood on the field behind me, as a substitute. He was later identified as Matheus Nunes.
"I informed the referee of this and that this aggressive physical contact and behaviour was worthy of a dismissal from the technical area.”
Nunes’ red card was subsequently rescinded with video evidence exonerating the Wolves man, although the West Midlands club did admit the charge of failing to control their players and failure of club officials to conduct themselves in an orderly fashion.
The Portuguese international had to be forcibly restrained by teammate and fellow substitute Diego Costa after Salisbury had taken the decision to brandish the red card.
Salisbury’s own report added that he decided not to take disciplinary action towards either bench despite behaviour towards fourth official Andre Marriner whilst the aforementioned decision was being reviewed at the VAR monitor.
“Andre Marriner, the fourth official, was confronted by a number of technical area staff from both teams during the time I was at the monitor to review the possible foul in the build up to the fourth Leeds United goal. This incident occurred in minute 90+8. No disciplinary action was taken against either technical area following this incident.”