Referee Rob Styles was forced into a humiliating public climb-down on Monday as he apologised to Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez for wrongly awarding Chelsea a penalty at Anfield on Sunday.
Styles judged that Steve Finnan had fouled Florent Malouda in the 62nd minute of Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea, but while television replays showed there had been no illegal contact, Frank Lampard equalised from the resulting penalty.
Conceding the gravity of his error, Styles said: “In mistakenly awarding a penalty, I accept that I may have affected the result of the match and for that I apologise.”
Although he had shown no such contrition immediately after the game, the unsympathetic response of referees’ chief Keith Hackett led Styles to try to appease Benitez.
Hackett explained: “I have spoken to Rob, he has looked at the video, and obviously he is extremely disappointed. He has admitted he got it wrong. It is wrong, and therefore Rob will not be officiating this weekend.”
The Premier League also removed Ian Gosling, who incorrectly ruled out David Healy’s equaliser for Fulham against Middlesbrough on Saturday when the ball had clearly crossed the line.