PARIS (AFP) - The referee who kicked a player during a French Ligue 1 game and then sent him off has been suspended “until further notice”, the French Football Federation (FFF) said on Monday.
Tony Chapron aimed a kick at Diego Carlos of Nantes towards the end Sunday’s game against Paris Saint-Germain after being knocked over when the pair collided. He then showed the player a second yellow card.
The FFF said Chapron had been “withdrawn... until further notice” and would be called to appear before the French league’s disciplinary commission.
In injury time and with PSG on the counter-attack, Chapron had stepped across the backtracking Nantes centre-back Carlos and tumbled to the floor.
The official stunned the stadium and those watching at home by kicking out at Carlos while still on the ground, in an incident reminiscent of David Beckham at the 1998 World Cup, before brandishing a second yellow card at the unfortunate player.
"He told me that he had never wanted to kick the player and that he had felt himself pushed in the back," said Nantes president Waldemar Kita after talking to Chapron.
"It's a joke. I got 20 text messages from across the world telling me this referee is a joke," Kita told French TV. "What do you want me to say? If I speak too much I'll be called in front of an ethics commission. We have no right to say anything."
Nantes midfielder Valentin Rongier had a good view of the incident and called for the referee to be given a lengthy ban.
"He says he slipped, but I know he kicked him," Rongier told Canal+. "I know it's very difficult to referee but you have to question them from time to time... We do that, we get a 10-match ban."
Former England striker Gary Lineker and ex-Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas were among those to express their bemusement on Twitter.
"Surely the good man will have apologised. It was spontaneous," wrote Casillas. "Yes, for me it's agression and red! Three matches minimum!"