Premier League referee Mike Dean and his family have received death threats in the aftermath of a series of high-profile, controversial decisions and he has asked to be taken off duty this weekend.
Dean, 52, has reported the threats to Merseyside Police and has been asked to not be put in charge of a Premier League match this week. He will still take charge of Wednesday’s FA Cup game between Leicester and Brighton.
Sportsmail understands the abuse was sent on social media platforms and, while Dean is known to be a resilient character within the Premier League hierarchy, the threats to his family were a step too far.
Referee Mike Dean and his family have received death threats after a series of controversial decisions
Dean showed West Ham’s Tomas Soucek (centre) a red card in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Fulham for appearing to raise his elbow into the face of striker Aleksandar Mitrovic
The Czech midfielder’s elbow made contact with Fulham striker Mitrovic’s face on Saturday
Dean and wife Karam have two daughters and live on Merseyside.
He was scheduled to take a break from officiating duties this weekend, however it is usual for referees to stand in as the fourth official or VAR. Assignments had not yet been allocated by the Premier League but Dean requested that he not be included.
Mike Riley, managing director of the Professional Games Match Officials Ltd – who oversee referees for the Premier League, EFL and FA Cup, said: ‘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.
‘Nobody should be a 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.’
PGMOL managing director Mike Riley has spoken out against the abuse of Mike Dean
And Premier League chief executive Richard Masters added his voice to the condemnation of the abuse received by Dean and his family.
‘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,’ said Masters.
‘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.”
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has condemned the treatment of Dean
Merseyside Police added: ‘We can confirm officers are investigating allegations of malicious communications reported today, Monday 8 February.
‘The reports relate to social media accounts and enquiries are ongoing. We monitor the internet, and if we identify any offences we will take action.
‘Those who use the internet to target others, and who commit a criminal offence [eg hate crime/malicious communications], are not beyond the law – and can + will be investigated and brought to justice.’
Dean has now had two red cards overturned in two consecutive matches following his dismissals of West Ham’s Tomas Soucek and Jan Bednarek of Southampton.
Soucek said he was ‘glad’ after the midfielder’s red card was overturned on Monday morning
Dean (left) also controversially sent off Jan Bednarek in Southampton’s 9-0 defeat by United
Working as the VAR, Dean denied Danny Ings a stoppage-time equaliser against Aston Villa because his ‘sleeve’ was offside
His most recent contentious call came in Saturday’s game between Fulham and West Ham where he decided to show Soucek a straight red card for violent conduct.
Replays showed Soucek lift his elbow in the direction of Aleksandar Mitrovic’s face but it seemed clear there was no malicious intent from the Czech midfielder.
Despite a lengthy video check, in which Dean watched several replays on the pitch-side monitor after being told to by VAR Lee Mason, the official was adamant it was a sending off.
The decision led West Ham boss David Moyes to say he was ’embarrassed’ for Dean at full-time. Soucek’s red card has now been rescinded by football’s authorities and he tweeted on Monday: ‘I am glad my red card against Fulham has been overturned. I’ve checked it, I’ve gone over 200 games without a single red card. My entire career. I am looking forward to helping the team in the important games this week! Thanks for your support!’
The spotlight was already on the Dean and Mason partnership after they combined once again to make some questionable calls in two recent matches involving Southampton.
It led the south-coast club to request both be kept away from their games in the coming weeks and it is now claimed the PGMOL was considering separating them.
Dean was in charge for Southampton’s 9-0 defeat at Manchester United last week, with Mason on fourth-official duties again.
Youngster Alexandre Jankewitz was correctly sent off after two minutes but Southampton ended the game with nine men after Bednarek was dismissed late on. Che Adams had a goal ruled out for a borderline offside, too.
Aston Villa’s Matty Cash appeared to clearly handle in the box last week at St Mary’s – but Southampton weren’t awarded a penalty
Dean – the VAR official on this occasions – watched almost two minutes of replays before deciding no penalty
Dean become the first referee to oversee 500 Premier League games and has refereed in the Premier League since the year 2000
Bednarek saw red after Anthony Martial went down in the box following minimal contact with the Polish defender. Bednarek was later picked up on camera telling a member of Southampton staff that Martial had said the incident was not a foul.
Southampton have since won their appeal against the sending off and the FA have lifted his suspension.
Just days before, the roles were reversed and Dean was on VAR duty for Southampton’s game with Aston Villa while Mason was the referee at St Mary’s.
Dean became the first referee to oversee 500 Premier League games last season
Southampton were controversially denied a penalty following what appeared to be a blatant Matty Cash handball in the penalty area. The Saints also had a Danny Ings goal ruled out for a marginal offside.
Dean became the first referee to oversee 500 Premier League games when he took charge of Arsenal against Sheffield United at the Emirates last season.
He has refereed in the Premier League since the year 2000 and has become known for his maverick personality on the pitch.