Police investigate Twitter abuse of Liverpool v Man U referee
Mark Halsey angered Liverpool fans by sending off Jonjo Shelvey and awarding a penalty to Man U
GREATER Manchester Police are investigating complaints that referee Mark Halsey received two malicious tweets over his handling of Sunday's Liverpool v Manchester United match.
United left Anfield with three points, and Halsey departed with the jeers of Liverpool fans ringing in his ears after he sent off Jonjo Shelvey and awarded United a penalty from which Robin van Persie settled the game in the visitors' favour.
In addition, Halsey declined to award Liverpool a spot-kick when Luis Suarez appeared to be tripped in the box. Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard later criticised the 51-year-old official for his lack consistency, saying of the sending off: "Mark Halsey got that one wrong."
Subsequently Halsey received two offensive tweets, both of which made reference to his battle with throat cancer in 2009. The Daily Mail reports that one, from an account named @johnwareing1, read, "I hope Mark Halsey gets cancer again and dies", while the second was from @lfcjohn259 and declared: "Mark Halsey should've died of cancer." Both posts were later removed.
But Halsey, who is scheduled to take charge of tonight's Capital One Cup tie between Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday, was so incensed he called in the police on Tuesday.
The abuse has also angered the Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO), the organisation responsible for supplying Premier League referees. They issued a statement in the light of Halsey's complaint in which they said: "PGMO abhors any abuse of match officials whether that is in stadia or outside of it. Our main concern is towards Mark and his family and, as with all match officials, there is a backroom team who are there for them."
While the police will be obliged to investigate Halsey's complaint, it's not clear what action they'll be able to take.
Last week a footballer in the Welsh amateur league, Daniel Thomas, was not charged for a homophobic tweet he sent in the summer about Olympic diver Tom Daley. Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, said there was no doubt the tweet had crossed a line "but the question for the Crown Prosecution Service is not whether it was offensive, but whether it was so grossly offensive that criminal charges should be brought".