Liverpool fan accused of spitting at Man City staff faces arrest and Anfield ban

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Pep Guardiola remonstrates with the fourth official - GETTY IMAGES
Pep Guardiola remonstrates with the fourth official - GETTY IMAGES

The Liverpool supporter accused of spitting at a member of Manchester City’s backroom team faces criminal prosecution and a lifetime Anfield ban after the Merseyside club gathered evidence surrounding the incident which marred Sunday’s 2-2 draw.

Club officials responded promptly to the official complaint lodged by the visitors minutes after the final whistle, launching an immediate investigation which has already obtained material which it is anticipated will be of interest to Merseyside police.

The evidence - including witness statements and video footage - will be handed over to the appropriate authorities upon request.

A Liverpool FC spokesperson said there was "substantial" footage collected over the last 24 hours.

The statement read: “Following a complaint of a serious alleged incident near the dugout area at Anfield during the second half of Sunday’s game against Manchester City, we are conducting a full investigation working with all relevant parties including Manchester City, to gather evidence from individuals who witnessed the incident as well as analysing all available video footage.

“The evidence collected to date is substantial and, if requested to do so, will be handed to Merseyside Police given the potential for criminal charges.

“This case will also be subject to the club’s official sanctions process."

Those club sanctions include expulsion from all future games at Anfield. Any individual who is identified as having spat at another person also faces arrest.

Liverpool are liaising with City to obtain further statements and any available and unredacted video. They have already spoken to witnesses who were sitting near the dug-outs at the time of the incident.

City manager Pep Guardiola said on Sunday he did not see what happened, but trusted Liverpool to take the appropriate action.

“Anfield is our home and we will ensure it is a safe, enjoyable environment for everyone attending and will not allow unacceptable isolated behaviour to impact on our club’s values and principles,” said the Liverpool spokesperson.

Milner's lucky escape shows Var still has yellow card flaw

By Keith Hackett

James Milner should have departed the field four minutes before his 78th-minute substitution by Joe Gomez – the veteran Liverpool player lucky not to have been shown a second yellow card for his clumsy challenge on Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva.

The ‘tackle’ was a foul that stopped a promising attack, and referee Paul Tierney should have demonstrated courage and issued a second yellow, followed by a red card. It was a mistake compounded by the fact that Liverpool, still with 11 men, went 2-1 up shortly afterwards with a brilliant individual goal from Mohamed Salah.

The sequence of events upset Manchester City’s manager Pep Guardiola so much that he was in the ear of fourth official Mike Dean, who nonchalantly chewed gum. To add insult to injury for the Spaniard, he was shown a yellow card for his protests. That City were eventually able to secure a point will have done little to diminish their manager’s sense of grievance.

Playing the last 15 minutes with Liverpool reduced to 10 men would, potentially, have made a huge difference to the result. Guardiola had a justified cause for complaint. I can only imagine that Tierney must have had some doubt about the challenge by Milner, understanding that he needed a clear view to make such a big call.

James Milner's lucky escape shows Var still has yellow card flaw - AFP
James Milner's lucky escape shows Var still has yellow card flaw - AFP

Former City defender Micah Richards, working as a pundit on Sky TV, suggested the referee was influenced by the partisan Anfield spectators. I have to disagree. Tierney is very experienced and while claims of this nature have been made in the past about referees visiting Liverpool, this is an official who has simply made a mistake, something that players of both teams did in the match when challenges were missed and passes went astray. It happens in football, and it was the one blot on what was a brilliant game to watch.

Once again, a Premier League referee allowed a high-profile match this season to flow without too many interruptions. However, the Milner incident underpins, for me, a weakness in the Video Assistant Referee system, as the person at Stockley Park is unable to intervene when a yellow-card error takes place.

Football fans watching the game at home on TV have the luxury of analysing the incident over and over to achieve clarity and accuracy, but the referee is not afforded this. Var criteria should be reviewed by the International Football Association Board.

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