‘Is this some sort of joke by UEFA?’: Bayern Munich fans FUME as referee Michael Oliver is appointed for huge Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid just days after he failed to send off Jordan Pickford for horror tackle on Virgil van Dijk in Merseyside derby
- Michael Oliver will referee Atletico Madrid’s game at Bayern Munich this week
- The Englishman officiated the controversial Merseyside Derby at the weekend
- Oliver refused to sanction Jordan Pickford for a rough tackle on Virgil van Dijk
- The Liverpool defender suffered knee ligament damage and was forced off
Michael Oliver has been appointed as the referee of Bayern Munich clash with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday just days after his Merseyside Derby controversy.
The English referee was criticised after failing to punish Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford for scything down Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk in the penalty area, which forced the Dutch defender off with knee ligament damage.
Oliver did not award a penalty as van Dijk was caught offside in the build-up to the challenge, but the defender is expected to miss most of this season due to the incident.
Michael Oliver (above) will referee Atletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich in the Champions League
Oliver failed to punish Jordan Pickford (front) for scything down Virgil van Dijk on Saturday
Now the Premier League referee has been given one of the high-profile fixtures of the first round of Champions League group stage fixtures despite the controversy.
Bayern Munich fans have been left horrified by the decision to appoint Oliver as the referee for the Atletico game.
Fan site ‘Bavarian Football Works’ wrote on Monday: ‘Excuse me? Is this some sort of joke by UEFA? This guy was terrible in the Merseyside derby, keep him away from us.
‘We don’t want to lose half our squad because an English buffoon doesn’t know how football works.’
Van Dijk exited Liverpool’s derby at Everton after just six minutes with knee ligament damage
Several fans, including one Bayern Munich fan website, slammed the UEFA call on Monday
Over the weekend, Pickford was not punished by Oliver nor David Coote, the Video Assistant Referee, following the van Dijk challenge and the Everton shot stopper will not receive a retrospective ban as the incident was spotted by the officials.
The Football Association can only hand out retrospective punishments if the officials covering the match were not aware of the incident during the match itself.
Despite the challenge going unpunished, Graeme Souness compared it to ‘assault’ as the Sky Sports pundit was stunned there was not any sanction given to Pickford.
Now Oliver, 35, will officiate one of biggest Champions League matches this midweek
The ex-Liverpool player said: ‘Any professional or semi-professional who has played the game, maybe the guys on Hackney Marshes, when they look at that, their focus isn’t on the offside, it’s on the player.
‘It’s outrageous. For me, it’s: wow. That was an assault, not a tackle – an assault.’
There was more controversy later in the Goodison Park derby as Oliver sent off Richarlison in the closing minutes of the game for a high tackle on Thiago Alcantara, while VAR ruled out Jordan Henderson’s late winner due to a marginal offside call.
Oliver was promoted to the UEFA group of ‘Elite Referees’ in 2018 having officiated three domestic cup finals in England.
The 35-year-old’s most high-profile incident on the European stage came in April 2018 when he awarded Real Madrid an injury-time penalty in their 4-3 aggregate win over Juventus.
Oliver (right) sent off Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon in the Champions League in April 2018
Oliver pointed to the spot after Mehdi Benatia challenged Lucas Vazquez in the Santiago Bernabeu penalty area, while the English referee sent off Gianluigi Buffon after the goalkeeper screamed at Oliver in front of his face.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the spot kick to send Juventus out of the competition, while Real Madrid went on to win the entire tournament.
The drama wasn’t over, as Buffon was not done abusing Oliver. In a post-match interview, the goalkeeper claimed the official should be ‘sitting in the crowd eating crisps’ rather than controlling the game.