PARIS • Referee Tony Chapron became the pantomime villain of Paris Saint-Germain's 1-0 win at Nantes on Sunday, after responding to an accidental collision with Diego Carlos by kicking the Brazilian and sending him off.
In stoppage time and with PSG on the counter-attack, Chapron stepped across the backtracking Nantes centre-back Carlos and tumbled to the turf. 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.
Chapron was yesterday suspended "until further notice" by the French Football Federation (FFF), and could be left red-faced after becoming the butt of jokes on social media. Footage of the incident quickly went viral, with former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas among those to express their bemusement on Twitter.
The Spaniard joked that the referee should have got a red card.
"Surely the good man will have apologised. It was spontaneous," he wrote. "That said, for me it's agression (sic) and red! Three matches minimum!"
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," he told Canal Plus. "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."
Chapron, who has been refereeing in France's top flight since 2004 and has taken charge of more than 400 matches, including the 2014 French Cup final, will be called to appear before the French league's disciplinary commission.
He has been removed from duties for tomorrow's Ligue 1 game between Angers and Troyes. The FFF added that the 45-year-old - who was recently invited to referee in the Chinese Super League - had reviewed video footage of the incident and "noted that his fall had been caused accidentally".
Singaporean Jeffrey Goh, who was an assistant referee at the 2010 World Cup, said officials should never lash out at players on the pitch, irrespective of the circumstances.
He told The Straits Times (ST): "It looked like the player accidentally tripped the referee, but the referee really shouldn't have done it (kicked the player)."
National defender Emmeric Ong, who plays for Warriors FC in the S-League, said that based on the video, it was obvious that it was not a deliberate push or trip by Carlos so the referee made a wrong decision to show him a second yellow card.
He told ST: "Personally, I have been in situations where the referee ran in front of me and we came into contact. But both of us knew it was accidental so we both apologised and just continued our own ways. Even when we sometimes mishit passes into the referee, we don't blame him because there isn't really time... We just want to focus on the game."