Mike Dean asks to sit out round of Premier League games after death threats

Jim van Wijk, PA
·3-min read

Referees chief Mike Riley has backed the request of Mike Dean to stand himself down from officiating at a Premier League game this weekend after he and his family received death threats on social media.

Dean, 52, had been involved in two controversial incidents and the threats have been reported to the police.

The referee showed a red card to West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek for catching Aleksandar Mitrovic with his elbow late on during Saturday’s goalless draw at Fulham and also sent off Southampton defender Jan Bednarek in the 9-0 defeat at Manchester United.

Both of the decisions – which followed Dean reviewing each incident on the pitchside monitor after consulting VAR – have since been overturned following an appeal.

The PA news agency understands both Dean and his family received abuse on social media over the weekend, including death threats, which have been reported.

Dean will be in charge of the FA Cup fifth-round tie between Leicester and Brighton on Wednesday night, but asked not to be involved in a Premier League match at the weekend.

Mike Riley at the Premier League Video Assistant Referee hub
Referee’s chief Mike Riley has condemned the abuse (Christopher Lee/Premier League Handout/PA)

PGMOL managing director Riley offered the organisation’s full support to Dean and condemned the abuse.

“Threats and abuse of this nature are totally unacceptable and we fully support Mike’s decision to report these messages his family received to the police,” Riley said in a PGMOL statement.

“Nobody should be victim of abhorrent messages like this.

“Online abuse is unacceptable in any walk of life and more needs to be done to tackle the problem.”

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters (centre)
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters (centre) has called for “greater proactive intervention” from social media companies (Mike Egerton/PA)

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters added his voice to the growing calls for social media companies to take direct action.

“It is inexcusable that Mike Dean and his family have received online abuse, including death threats, as a result of doing his job officiating at a Premier League match,” Masters said in a statement.

“It is completely unacceptable that we are seeing abusive behaviour aimed at players, managers and match officials regularly on social media platforms.

“Mike and his family have our full support in reporting this to the police.

“This once again highlights the need for greater proactive intervention from social media companies to stop online abuse and identify offenders.”

Soucek also posted a statement on Twitter, expressing support for Dean and his family.

He wrote: “Whatever decisions are made on the pitch should stay on the pitch. I don’t like hearing about it interfering with personal life and I send Mike Dean and his family my support.

“There is no place for abuse of any kind. It is in the past and I’m now focused on the rest of the season.”

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