Liverpool poised for referee showdown as Haaland treatment fails to mirror Van Dijk saga


Liverpool could be poised for a showdown with referee chiefs after Erling Haaland escaped punishment following his outburst during Manchester City’s 3-3 draw with Tottenham on Sunday. Spurs ended their three-game losing streak as Dejan Kulusevski popped up with a 94th-minute equaliser at the Etihad Stadium.

The Citizens played out an epic contest against Spurs, with Son Heung-min giving the visitors the lead early on before turning the ball into his own net moments later. Phil Foden finished a fine move to put the hosts ahead for the first time in the match just after the half-hour mark, before Giovani Lo Celso pulled Tottenham level with 20 minutes remaining.

Jack Grealish nudged City into the lead for the second time, before Kulusevski headed in during stoppage time. But there was still time for controversy after referee Simon Hooper later halted the game for a Citizens free-kick, despite the fact Haaland had played Grealish through on goal.

Haaland proceeded to scream in Hooper’s face as a whole host of furious City players surrounded the match official. And then later in the evening, the Norway striker wrote “wtf” on X (formerly Twitter) after a video of the incident had been shared.

On Monday, the FA decided to charge City as they released a statement that read: “Manchester City have been charged with a breach of FA Rule E20.1 after their players surrounded the match official during the Premier League fixture against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday 3 December 2023. It's alleged that, during the 94th minute of the fixture, the club failed to ensure their players do not behave in a way which is improper.”

But, according to the BBC, Haaland is not facing an individual punishment as the FA will not be handing out any further charges.

In August, Virgil van Dijk was shown a straight red card during the first half of Liverpool’s 2-1 victory at Newcastle following a foul on Alexander Isak. The Netherlands defender protested the decision to referee John Brook and apparently went overboard as the FA slapped him with a £100,000 fine and an extra one-game ban on top of his initial one-game ban because he “acted in an improper manner and used abusive and insulting words towards a match official.”

But the same sanction has not been handed down to Haaland. The ex-Borussia Dortmund ace may not have sworn at Hooper, but he certainly directed a barrage of aggression towards the official. And he used an acronym that included a swear word on social media. So Liverpool may now be asking referee chiefs where the consistency is and why Haaland is not facing the same punishment as Van Dijk.

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