Football

Ref rage: When players attack

Life is never easy for a referee. (©GettyImages)
Life is never easy for a referee. (©GettyImages).

Ashley Barnes must be wondering how he allowed such dark thoughts to infiltrate his mind last Saturday afternoon, with the Brighton forward now facing up to a suspension of seven games from the Football Association.

The 23-year-old was sent off at the Reebok Stadium during the defeat to Bolton, having inexplicably decided to trip up referee Nigel Miller that almost caused the official to crash into the turf, resulting in an initial four-game ban.

A further charge from the FA arrived after the governing body deemed the initial sanction 'clearly insufficient' and Barnes has had a more severe punishment placed upon his surely repentant shoulders. 

It was a bizarre, and clearly unacceptable, moment of madness from Barnes, but is relatively minor episode when compared to other instances that have seen players lose their rag at the expense of a match official.

Here are some other moments when players have allowed their emotions to get the better of them…

Paolo Di Canio tells the ref to shove off

Has there ever been a sports pro to epitomise the phrase 'fiery Italian' more appropriately than Paolo Di Canio? The former West Ham striker has provided us with plenty of reasons to love him down the years, but has also shown a darker side.

During his time with Sheffield Wednesday, Di Canio reacted to being sent off by pushing referee Paul Alcock to the ground. The forward was later fined £10,000 by the FA and had his ban extended to 11 matches.

You can watch Di Canio give the referee a shove here. And while we're on the subject of Di Canio, let's also have a look at that volley for West Ham against Wimbledon.

Referee tag-teamed by over-zealous duo

Sometimes players can cause damage to a referee unintentionally, as Lee Probert came to realise this when he was squashed in between a committed 50/50 challenge.

Officiating an encounter between Wigan and Fulham like the true pro he is, Probert was victim to tag team duo now known as the 'Ginger Axis' as he was poleaxed in tandem by Steve Sidwell and Ben Watson.

The ref was required to receive treatment following the clash, and waved a red card at both players in jest. Watch the video here.

There are, of course, other instances in which attacks on referees move on from on-field scuffles and progress into criminal assaults. Here are some examples…

Samba star plays some sweet chin music

Independente de Limeira’s Johnny dos Santos was hardly known outside his native Brazil, but has now achieved fame of sorts after a quite shocking attack on a referee.

As the referee signalled for four minutes of additional time in Independente's defeat to Marilia, Dos Santos decided to take exception to the ruling and launched a breathtaking assault on the official.

The Brazilian was seen to strike the ref in the chin with a martial arts style kick, instantly sending the recipient tumbling to the ground. You can watch the video here.

Ref prompted into retirement after shocking clash

Bashir Awwasa must have feared for his life during a horrifying incident in the Lebanese second division. Having sent a player from the field, the ref was chased and punched by a number of players and staff.

He has since taken the decision to retire from officiating, and spoke to ITN after stepping away from the game. 

"Usually when we issue a red card we expect a reaction from the player. This is why I tried to step back in order to prevent any reaction, and this is what happened," he said.

"He ran after me and attacked me and when he hit me, I tried to run. The coach also attacked me and the other staff ran after me and things got out of hand."

And, finally, when the referee strikes back…

Robbie savaged by ref

Hands up who wants to punch Robbie Savage in the face. Yes, I thought some of you may be interested in that. Well, Matt Messias lived the ambition of many when he struck the midfielder during his time with Birmingham.

Loping up behind the ref with Newcastle on the attack, Savage felt the full force of the referee's elbow straight into his chops, leaving him a quivering wreck on the St James' Park turf.

You can watch the incident in the video here.

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