Referee Darren Drysdale has been charged with improper conduct over squaring up to a player for a head-to-head confrontation during an English league match.
Yet the official has had support from other players on social media, including Aston Villa’s England internationals Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings.
The 49-year-old Lincolnshire official Drysdale appeared to square up to Ipswich midfielder Alan Judge and lean his head into the Republic of Ireland international during their League One game against Northampton on Tuesday.
The confrontation came after the midfielder’s appeal for a penalty had been turned down by Drysdale during the goalless draw.
Drysdale apologised on Wednesday to both Judge and Ipswich for his actions but the FA still charged him.
“It is alleged that the match official’s behaviour during the 90th minute of the game amounts to improper conduct and he has until Thursday 4 March 2021 to provide a response,” the FA said in a statement.
Drysdale had said in an earlier statement, released by the Professional Game Match Officials Limited, before the charge: “I fully understand that it is important for us as referees to maintain our composure throughout the game and always engage with players in a professional manner.
“I’m sorry that I did not do that last night and I can only apologise to Alan and Ipswich Town.”
Ipswich pair Flynn Downes and Jack Lankester and Northampton defender Lloyd Jones had stepped in and calmed the situation before Drysdale booked Judge.
On social media, Grealish laughed off the incident, saying: “Ah come on?! No need to apologise at all! I think it’s brilliant.”
And his teammate Mings believes more needs to be done to ensure referees receive respect from players.
“Refs and officials put up with a lot from players. I’m sure he isn’t proud of it but in the world we’re living in, I think you can allow for some compassion when people don’t always act as they should,” Mings replied to a tweet.
“I agree that they should be impartial. But methodical? They are human and like I said, some of the stuff said to them isn’t nice. It probably highlights how professional they are and how well of a job they do that more of them haven’t reacted like that.”