WARNING: This post contains language that could be considered offensive.
In the recent Manchester derby match, Select Group and FIFA Referee Martin Atkinson was in charge. Early in the second half, Manchester City (blue) was flagged for offside. Man City midfielder Samir Nasri took exception with the decision and complained about it to Referee Atkinson.
A short two minutes later, Man City were again flagged for offside, and on this occasion, Nasri approached Assistant Referee 2 to complain. AR2 quickly recognized the dissent and instructed Nasri to stop (53:02). When Nasri did not, Referee Atkinson intervened (hear the whistle at 53:11) and delivered a stern warning to Nasri.
Nasri did not respond well to the warning. As you will see in the video, Nasri disrespectfully waves Atkinson away and appears to say “go away boy” (53:22). Nasri then mocks the referee with hand gestures that simulate talking and very clearly says “shut the fuck up”. At this point, Atkinson blows the whistle again (play was still stopped for the offside) and cautions Nasri for dissent.
Over the course of the season, we have seen Atkinson be very consistent in dealing with dissent. He tolerates the occasional emotional outburst, but no more, and that is the case here.
That said, I am left feeling dissatisfied with the issuance of only a caution, and I am hoping some of the iTOOTR community – and especially our UK readers – can help shed light on this.
This kind of behavior from a player is rarely, if ever, seen in American professional p And when it does happen, it is dealt with swiftly and severely. Why is that not the case in the Premier League? If the behavior exhibited by Nasri isn’t deserving of a dismissal, then what behavior towards a referee would be?
I am aware of and acknowledge the cultural differences between the USA and the UK; our UK cousins often think of us as a bit “puritan” with regard to matters such as foul and abusive language. But surely, this type of behavior is beyond the pale? Isn’t it? As far as the youth game goes, I can’t think of a referee I know who would punish this type of outburst with only a caution.
I encourage our UK readers and our USSF State and National referees to share their insights with us. Is this type of behavior typical? Do referees want to punish it more severely and don’t because they fear the FA won’t back them? Or did Referee Atkinson just get it wrong by only showing a yellow card in this case?