Referees’ chief Keith Hackett has defended under-fire official Graham Poll after the referee came under fresh scrutiny following his dismissal of Everton’s James McFadden for foul and abusive language.
The Scottish forward claimed he was sent off in the Carling Cup defeat by Arsenal because Poll thought he called him a ‘f****** cheat’ when he had in fact said ‘that was f****** s***’.
Everton manager David Moyes was unhappy with the decision but Hackett, head of the Professional Game Match Officials, said that either outburst warranted a red card.
“Both of those statements fulfilled the criteria of a red-card offence therefore the referee has on this occasion followed the rules,” he said.
“If one uttered those words to a policeman what do you think he would do? We’re grown up about these things but there’s a tolerance level and players have to be aware they have a responsibility to operate within the rules.
“Whatever way you look at the laws of association football, insulting language is not allowed on the field of play. If you are operating as professional player within this great game of ours you have to be aware of this responsibility.
“The principle is that insulting language in the laws of football, however you look at it, is a red-card offence.’
It is the second time in a week a decision by Poll has come under attack. He was criticised for sending off Chelsea’s John Terry off for two bookable offences at Tottenham.
However, Hackett said Poll would continue to referee the top games.
He said: “We are talking about one of the top referees in England who features in the top games as well as less high-profile matches in the Premiership and Carling Cup.
“I feel he will remain strong as a referee and players have to be aware they have to play by the rules of football.
“He has just completed 300 Premier League games and is highly regarded in Europe.
“I want my top referee, who is performing well, to be available and he will be on duty between Manchester City versus Newcastle tomorrow.”