Tony Chapron: Crazy story of Ligue 1 referee banned for kicking Nantes’ Diego Carlos

  • Rob Swan
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In terms of the craziest football stories of recent times, a shocking incident involving Ligue 1 referee Tony Chapron is right up there.

Chapron was the match official for a French top-flight fixture between Nantes and Paris Saint-Germain in January 2018.

All was relatively normal for the vast majority of the match. PSG took the lead at the Stade de la Beaujoire in the 12th minute through Angel Di Maria. The visitors were attempting to score a second goal on the counter-attack as the clock ticked down to full-time.

Chapron sprinted back towards the Nantes goal as Kylian Mbappe burst away.

However, the vastly-experienced French ref was inadvertently tripped by Nantes centre-back Diego Carlos.

One of the first rules of refereeing is that you must stay calm and composed at all times. But Chapron saw red on this occasion and reacted by kicking out at the Brazilian defender.

Carlos understandably looked confused by the referee’s behaviour. To make matters worse, Chapron then showed Nantes’ No. 3 a second yellow card.

Everybody associated with Nantes, including Carlos, were baffled and angry in equal measure with Chapron’s decision to brandish the red card.

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BT Sport commentator Jonathan Pearce was equally as shocked after seeing the replay.

“I think Tony Chapron, the referee, will be in real trouble after this,” Pearce said. “That was an absolute accident. There was no intention from the player whatsoever.

“The referee’s antics will get him in hot water, I am absolutely sure. I have never seen that from a referee.”

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Video: Tony Chapron kicks Diego Carlos

Watch the incident here:

Pearce was spot on with his prediction. After the clip went viral on social media, Chapron received a six-month ban from the French Football Federation and then decided to end his refereeing career.

It was the worst possible end to a decent refereeing career that had spanned 20 years.

"I didn't want to kick him," Chapron told the BBC's World Football Podcast in November 2018.

"It's a pity because I finished my career on this game, on this situation. It's difficult to accept after being a referee for 1,500 matches because in the moment it was just reflex.

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"I'm a human and I felt a pain and I was scared. I was tired. It was not aggressive.

"I just fell down, someone pushed me and as a reflex I put my foot out and said, 'Hey guy, take care!'

"In fact, the reaction of the players and the coaches was, 'OK, this guy made a mistake, so what?'

"But for the media and social media it was a big affair. Because the referee should not act like this and I agree and apologise for my reaction."

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Chapron believes he was treated more harshly than players who instinctively lashed out because he was a referee.

"Just remember when Zinedine Zidane gave a headbutt in the 2006 World Cup final,” he added.

"He was a fantastic player, maybe one of the best in the world for many years. And the reaction in this situation with Zidane was not so big if you compare with my situation."

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Chapron went on to work in French media after hanging up his whistle but remained philosophical when looking back at his refereeing career.

"Winston Churchill once said, 'Success is to go from failure to failure and to keep smiling'," he said.

"I think this is the way we must think as referee!"

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