A week after Michael Oliver broke Juventus hearts and sent off Gianluigi Buffon in their dramatic Champions League quarter-final with Real Madrid tempers are still running high in Turin.
Consequently Uefa has issued a statement defending the Premier League referee and his wife Lucy, and urging the authorities to act.
Mrs Oliver is a Women’s Super League referee, who also officiates men’s non-league football, and according to BBC Sport she has “received threatening texts after her mobile number was posted on social media following the game”.
The match ended in extraordinary fashion with Michael Oliver awarding Real Madrid a stoppage-time penalty after Lucas Vazquez was fouled by Juventus’s Medhi Benatia. In the ensuing protest from the Juventus players, Buffon lost control of himself, unleashing a tirade against Oliver that led to his red card.
The veteran Italian goalkeeper continued his abuse in the post-match press conference, saying of the Englishman: “To award such a doubtful, or super doubtful penalty, just ahead of the final whistle and destroy the work of a team who gave absolutely everything, you have to have a trash bin instead of your heart.”
Buffon was unapologetic on Saturday, despite the online abuse aimed at the Olivers, telling reporters he “stands by all of it”.
That disappointed Gary Lineker, who posted a message on Twitter for the goalkeeper: “These vituperous attacks on Michael Oliver and his wife are repugnant. Big admirer of Buffon but his behaviour since has been inflammatory and out of order. Oliver was doing his job and hard to argue against his decisions. Understand the emotion but time to defuse it, Gianluigi.”
There has been no response.
Lucy Oliver seems to have borne the brunt of the abuse, with her Twitter account bombarded by obscene message, prompting Northumbria police to tell BBC Sport: “We are aware of threatening messages being posted on social media. This type of behaviour is completely unacceptable and those writing the messages need to be aware that they could be committing a criminal offence.”
Now Uefa has acted on the unacceptable abuse, issuing a statement last night saying: [We] strongly condemns the abuse directed at Michael Oliver and his wife. We have been in contact with them to offer our support and we trust the relevant authorities to take action against those individuals who have behaved inappropriately both on and off social media.”