For the first time, the linesman who appeared to elbow Liverpool defender Andy Robertson during Sunday’s draw with Arsenal has spoken out
The FA is looking into assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis after he appeared to make contact with Robertson as the players left the field for the half-time break.
After the incident, Robertson and some of his Liverpool teammates protested vehemently, telling match referee Paul Tierney that he had been struck in the neck area.
In an entertaining 2-2 draw, Robertson was shown a yellow card for his role in the clash, and Hatzidakis continued to run the line in the second half.
Hatzidakis, 38, has been suspended from duty while the FA conducts an investigation, with a former referee suggesting he could face a lengthy suspension.
‘Whatever happens, happens,’ Hatzidakis said from his south London home, speaking for the first time about the incident. I have nothing else to say at the moment. I can’t discuss what happened.’
Robertson and other players who witnessed the incident will be asked to provide statements in order to assist the FA’s investigation.
Ex-Premier League referee Mark Halsey said he had never seen anything like what happened at Anfield and that the linesman could face an eight-match suspension.
Fulham striker Aleksander Mitrovic was recently suspended for eight games for putting his hands on an official, and Halsey believes Hatzidakis may face the same punishment.
‘Officials are the keepers of standards on the field of play, and I think he’ll be regretting his actions,’ he said on talkSPORT. ‘Having said that, I believe the PGMOL will conduct an investigation.
‘For me, Robertson approaches him and appears to be about to touch him before the assistant flicks his arm up. He should not have done so. He should have gone to the referee and reported it, then let him handle it.
‘However, if he is found guilty of an act of violent conduct, he should accept his punishment in the same way that Mitrovic has.
‘They’re both professionals; Robertson is a professional player, and the assistant referee is a professional assistant referee. We can only guess what happened and must wait for the investigation to conclude.
ICYMI: This is what transpired at the half time whistle. Andy Robertson was seemingly elbowed by the linesman but was then shown a yellow card
— Stadium Astro ???????? (@stadiumastro) April 9, 2023
‘You’ve got to look at Mitrovic, haven’t you?’ Halsey said of the length of punishment.
‘He was suspended for eight games for using technical assault, and they could argue that the assistant technically assaulted a player. Aren’t you looking at two similar incidents?
‘Obviously, if found guilty, he must face the consequences of an eight-game suspension because they’ve established a precedent.’
Others, however, defended the assistant referee, claiming Robertson should not have approached him in such an intimidating manner.
Meanwhile, Manchester United legend Roy Keane felt Robertson overreacted to the contact and dubbed the Liverpool star a “big baby.”
‘He should be more concerned with his defending,’ the former Manchester United captain told Sky Sports.
‘Do you have any idea who he is? I’ve seen Robertson on several occasions. He’s a big kid. That’s exactly what he is.
‘Just play the game and focus on your defense. He does, however, grab the linesman first.’