Football's governing bodies must do more to protect referees amid a "considerable rise" in abuse that has often been met with a "silent" response.

That was the message from Ref Support chief executive Martin Cassidy, who referenced issues with Bruno Fernandes, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Andrew Robertson in the Premier League this season.

Fernandes appeared to make contact with an assistant referee in Liverpool's 7-0 thrashing of Manchester United, while Mitrovic was banned for eight games after pushing Chris Kavanagh.

Robertson was another involved in an altercation with an official, when assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis seemingly made contact with the Liverpool left-back with his elbow, though the official faced no further punishment after an investigation.

A couple of seasons earlier, former Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero came under scrutiny for placing his hand on the shoulder of assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis during a home victory over Arsenal. 

Cassidy believes the response to the rise in these issues has been inadequate, calling on the likes of the League Managers Association (LMA) and Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) to do more.

He told Stats Perform: "From a domestic point of view, what's been going on over here with the situations that [there has been] a considerable rise in contact with match officials from what's happened with Sian Massey-Ellis, Bruno Fernandes, Mitrovic, Robertson – it’s on the rise.

"When's it going to stop? And there are people who are silent on this who shouldn't be silent on this – the LMA, the PFA and even the Football Supporters' Association, they're all quiet on this, they comment on everything else.

"They will talk all these white papers and governments, and they tweet about enough is enough about things [that are important] to them, but they never come out and publicly condemn their behaviour by their members.

"The LMA never do it. We wrote to them, and we got a very benign, weak response. [The] PFA never say anything about the behaviour of their players – their members.

"Certainly, there never seems to be any stance from supporters associations who really want to stand up and say: 'Look, we are going to do something here, what's the protocols, what's the code of conduct for managers in the LMA, what is the code of conduct for a professional footballer with regard to how they behave with these post-match comments here?'

"So, there are a lot of silent people here who need to step up like the FA have in this country. When these people criticise the FA, the LMA and the PFA need to look at themselves and say what they are doing to address the situation that's caused directly by their members."

Cassidy acknowledged the problems span wider than English football, with the ill-tempered Europa League final between Roma and Sevilla marred by abuse of referee Anthony Taylor after the game.

Aside from refereeing issues, the ongoing racially motivated problems with Vinicius Junior and Spanish football continue – and Cassidy believes UEFA must improve.

"UEFA hasn't really got a good track record on what they've done with racism," he added. "So, they have been quite weak on that really and very erratic.

"Look at what has happened in Spain, they haven't really taken control of that. So, I'm not very hopeful that they'll respond to this in a manner that football wants it to respond to, but hopefully they prove us wrong.

"UEFA does, in particular with the UEFA foundation, some wonderful stuff. But when it comes to stuff like this, they don't seem to – look at what happened in the Champions League final last year, Liverpool-Real Madrid – they never really covered themselves in glory there.

"Let's take this opportunity, UEFA, let's make the game better. Let's come out hard and tough and let's send a message that this behaviour is totally unacceptable in our game."

What the papers say

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson has reportedly made it onto Real Madrid’s transfer radar.

According to the Daily Mail, the 29-year-old Scotland captain is viewed by the LaLiga club as a potential replacement for injury-plagued defender Ferland Mendy. However, Robertson is contracted to Liverpool until 2026 and has shown no intention of leaving.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror reports Arsenal are prepared to move mountains in order to fuel their transfer capital. The paper says Gunners bosses are willing to sell as many as eight players to raise funds for their summer transfer pursuits, which includes Leicester’s James Maddison and West Ham’s Declan Rice.

Ajax forward Mohammed Kudus is eager to part ways with the Dutch club, according to The Sun. Citing De Telegraaf, the paper says the 22-year-old is ready for a change of scenery, with Manchester United, Arsenal and Newcastle all believed to be interested in the Ghana international.

And The Guardian reports Tottenham are considering approaching Feyenoord boss Arne Slot to take over as Spurs manager.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Ilkay Gundogan: ESPN says Arsenal are interested in a move for the Manchester City midfielder.

Julian Alvarez: Bayern Munich view the Manchester City forward as a summer transfer target, reports Bild.

Constantine Hatzidakis will return to action on Saturday in the Championship after being cleared over his dramatic clash with Liverpool defender Andy Robertson.

The assistant referee was investigated by the Football Association over an incident during the Reds' Premier League game with Arsenal earlier this month.

Television footage appeared to show that Hatzidakis' elbow made contact with Robertson's chin at the end of the first half, for which the official has said he has apologised.

He will feature in the second tier for his return as an assistant referee in the Championship game between Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers at Deepdale.

Hatzidakis will then be back in the Premier League next Tuesday when he is on VAR duty for Leeds United against Leicester City at Elland Road.

The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) has said the assistant referee who allegedly elbowed Liverpool defender Andrew Robertson will not be appointed during the investigation into Sunday's incident.

After the half-time whistle was blown at Anfield during Liverpool's 2-2 Premier League draw with Arsenal, images showed Robertson approaching Constantine Hatzidakis, who was seen to lift his elbow into the Scotland captain.

The PGMOL released a statement on Monday confirming that while The Football Association's investigation is ongoing, the assistant referee will not be appointed to any games.

The statement read: "PGMOL will not be appointing Constantine Hatzidakis to fixtures in any of the competition it serves whilst The FA investigates the incident involving the assistant referee and Liverpool defender Andrew Robertson at Anfield."

Hatzidakis was also one of the assistant referees for Liverpool's game at Tottenham last season in which Robertson was left angered by the decision not to send Harry Kane off for a foul on him, before later seeing red himself.

Sunday's incident came just weeks after Fulham striker Alexandar Mitrovic received a red card for putting his hands on referee Chris Kavanagh during their FA Cup defeat to Manchester United.

The Serbian was given an eight-game suspension, with The FA appealing for a longer ban.

The body responsible for Premier League match officials will investigate after an assistant referee appeared to elbow Liverpool's Andy Robertson during Sunday's draw with Arsenal.

Liverpool recovered from 2-0 down to dent Arsenal's title hopes in a thrilling game at Anfield, with Roberto Firmino heading a late equaliser to deny the Gunners a crucial win.

The match was played out in a fierce atmosphere, and the end of the first half saw a bizarre altercation between linesman Constantine Hatzidakis and Reds left-back Robertson.

As Robertson spoke to the official, television pictures seemed to show Hatzidakis raise his right elbow and make contact with the Scotland international.

According to Sky Sports, Robertson alleged the official had elbowed him in the throat upon entering the tunnel at half-time, with Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson reportedly complaining to referee Paul Tierney.

Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the body responsible for referees, vowed to examine the incident.

In a widely reported statement issued shortly before full-time, the body said: "PGMOL is aware of an incident involving assistant referee Constantine Hatzidakis and Liverpool defender Andrew Robertson at half-time during the Liverpool v Arsenal fixture at Anfield. 

"We will review the matter in full once the game has concluded."

Liverpool's fightback means Arsenal's lead over title rivals Manchester City stands at six points, though Pep Guardiola's champions have a game in hand and will host the Gunners at the Etihad Stadium later this month.

Liverpool were fuming as defender Andy Robertson appeared to be elbowed by an assistant referee at the end of the first half of Sunday's game against Arsenal.

The left-back approached the official, who was identified by Sky Sports as Constantine Hatzidakis, and seemed to be making a point to him.

It was unclear from a distance what was said, but television pictures then looked to show the assistant referee raise his right elbow and make contact with the Scotland international.

What was not obvious was whether the linesman had intended to catch Robertson.

Asked if he had ever seen anything like it, pundit and former Manchester United hard man Roy Keane said: "No, not really, but Robertson, does he grab the linesman first? I'm not sure, but Robertson then is complaining.

"He should be more worried about his defending."

Keane then pointed the finger at Robertson and described him as "a big baby".

"You know what he is, that Robertson," Keane said. "I've watched him a number of times, he is a big baby. Just get on with the game and concentrate on your defending. He does grab the linesman first."

According to Sky Sports, Robertson said on entering the tunnel at half-time: "The linesman has elbowed me in the throat."

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson reportedly complained to referee Paul Tierney, before the players entered the dressing room.

Bukayo Saka returned to the Arsenal team to face Liverpool at Anfield, while Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah were handed starts for the hosts.

Saka dropped to the bench for a 4-1 hammering of Leeds United last weekend due to illness, but the England winger replaced Leandro Trossard in the Premier League leaders' starting line-up on Sunday.

That was the only change made by manager Mikel Arteta as the Gunners looked to restore their advantage over second-placed Manchester City to eight points.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp recalled centre-back Van Dijk and leading scorer Salah to his team, along with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson and Cody Gakpo.

Van Dijk was absent for a goalless draw with Chelsea in midweek, while Salah, Robertson, Gakpo and Alexander-Arnold started on the bench at Stamford Bridge.

Thiago Alcantara was included among the substitutes for Sunday's game after two months on the sidelines with a hip injury.

Rodri described Scotland's style of play as "rubbish" after Spain fell to a surprise 2-0 defeat in Tuesday's Euro 2024 qualifier at Hampden Park, accusing Steve Clarke's hosts of time-wasting.

Scott McTominay scored early in both halves as Scotland maintained their perfect start in Group A, dealing Luis de la Fuente his first defeat since he replaced Luis Enrique as Spain boss.

While the result represents Spain's first European Championship qualification defeat since October 2014 (2-1 v Slovakia), it is also the first time La Roja have lost a game by more than a one-goal margin since Euro 2016 (2-0 v Italy).

Spain were visibly frustrated as Scotland produced a resolute defensive performance in Glasgow, with players from both teams involved in a series of altercations as the game went on.

Spain's stand-in captain Rodri was less than impressed with Scotland's display after the game, telling ViaPlay: "It's the way they play, in the end you have to respect it, but for me it's a bit rubbish.

"It's always wasting time, they provoke you, they always fall. This for me is not football. The referee says nothing and it's a bit frustrating because we want to win.

"It's difficult, because they waste time. But they have their weapons, and we will learn for the next time. 

"We wanted to go in the duels and the battles. We always fight, but this is not about fighting, it's about wasting time, it's about four or five players falling to the floor, those kinds of situations.

"These teams are always physically strong, but we have to use our weapons. We are good with the ball and have to move the ball quickly. Today we did many good things, but we didn't score."

Scotland skipper Andy Robertson disagreed with Rodri's assessment, believing Spain were guilty of play-acting in the early stages and praising his team-mates for winning the physical battle.

"I think they were going down a little bit easily. We were trying to say that [to the referee]," Robertson said.

"We were always going to try to be physical and we wanted to be in their faces, to win our challenges and win our headers. I think we did that and I don't think we crossed the line. 

"I think, especially in the first half, they were rolling around a bit much, they used their experience and got a couple of us booked, but I think we won that battle and got under their skin."

Scott McTominay predicted Scotland's fans will talk about Tuesday's win over Spain in 30 years' time after his brace helped the Tartan Army maintain their perfect start to Euro 2024 qualifying. 

Having also scored twice in Saturday's 3-0 win over Cyprus, McTominay netted in both halves as Scotland handed Luis de la Fuente his first defeat as Spain boss, triumphing 2-0 at a buoyant Hampden Park.

Scotland have now won their first two games of a World Cup/Euros qualification campaign for the first time since September 2006, putting them three points clear of Spain at the Group A summit.

Manchester United midfielder McTominay, meanwhile, has four goals in his last two international appearances after netting just once in his first 37.

Speaking after the full-time whistle, McTominay was aware of the significance of his second brace in three days, telling ViaPlay: "Look at this place. I've never seen anything like it, it's incredible!

"The manager said in his talk before we went out, 'This is your chance to make your own legacies as Scotland players'.

"These are the nights that in 20 or 30 years, people will remember, and they'll watch the game back and say, 'I was there'.

"That's what the game is about. These fans are amazing every time we come to Hampden and we can't thank them enough."

While the result provided a huge boost to Steve Clarke's hopes of leading Scotland to successive European Championships, the head coach is keen to ensure his players do not get carried away.  

Asked if Tuesday's victory was the best of his managerial career, Clarke said: "I've not had time to think about it or digest it yet, I'm just trying to get my voice back, to be honest!

"If you can produce a big result against one of the top teams in Europe, then people speak about it in years to come.

"The players were absolutely outstanding from the first minute to the last minute. It's a big night, it feels like a big step forward in what we're trying to do as a nation.

"But it's only six points, you don't qualify with six points. One bad game can always set you back, so we'll stay focused and keep our feet on the ground."

Liverpool are working to identify and ban the pitch invader who collided with their players during goal celebrations in Sunday's 7-0 win over Manchester United.

Jurgen Klopp's side claimed a record victory against their rivals as Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah each scored braces on a stunning day at Anfield.

During the celebrations for Roberto Firmino's seventh goal of the game, however, a supporter ran onto the pitch to join the players, slipped and collided with Andy Robertson.

Liverpool left-back Robertson was knocked to the ground, and the incident prompted a furious reaction from Klopp, who could be seen shouting at the culprit as he was removed by security.

Further action is to come, the club confirmed in a statement on Monday.

"Liverpool FC has begun an immediate investigation to identify and ban the individual pitch runner from Sunday's Premier League fixture against Manchester United at Anfield," it read.

"The offender ran onto the pitch and collided with Liverpool players, risking injury, as they celebrated the seventh goal in front of the Main Stand.

"There is no excuse for this unacceptable and dangerous behaviour. The safety and security of players, colleagues and supporters is paramount.

"The club will now follow its formal sanctions process and has suspended the alleged offender’s account until the process is complete.

"If found guilty of the offence of entering the pitch without permission, the offender could face a criminal record and a lifetime ban from Anfield and all Premier League stadiums.

"These acts are dangerous, illegal and have severe consequences."

Mohamed Salah's record-breaking Premier League exploits with Liverpool are "no coincidence" to Jordan Henderson due to the forward's work ethic.

The Egypt international surpassed Robbie Fowler as Liverpool's all-time top scorer in the competition after a brace in a remarkable 7-0 rout of fierce rivals Manchester United on Sunday.

A pair of second-half strikes at Anfield extended his impressive record against old foes United, with 12 goals in his last 12 appearances in the fixture and nine in the past five meetings.

Salah also boasts the record as the top-scoring African in the Premier League and Liverpool's record scorer in Europe, with yet another achievement coming as no surprise to Henderson.

The England international told Sky Sports: "I'm really happy for Mo because it's not a coincidence that he gets these numbers.

"He dedicates his life to football every single day, how hard he works, he's the first one in and last one out. It's not a coincidence so I'm delighted for him."

Liverpool's biggest victory over United – surpassing a 7-1 second-tier thrashing in October 1895 – moved Jurgen Klopp's side within three points of fourth-placed Tottenham, having played a game fewer.

Henderson suggested a humiliating defeat for United tasted sweeter for Liverpool given Erik ten Hag's side lifted the EFL Cup just a week before with victory over Newcastle United at Wembley.

He added: "It is a little bit because of how well United have been playing of late; they have just won a trophy the other week, which will have hurt us as a team a little bit watching them lift that and they have been doing really well this season.

"For us, it was just about today and about performing to the levels we're capable of, and we managed to do that and the momentum kept building and we ended up getting seven.

"Like Mo said, we've got to take each game as it comes now. It's a big win but we need to concentrate on the next one."

Klopp's men are just seven points adrift of third-placed United despite Ten Hag's side repeatedly coming into praise in recent weeks for apparent progression under the Dutchman.

Liverpool have struggled for form this campaign, but Andy Robertson urged the Reds to push on after picking up 13 points from a possible 15 in their last five league games.

The left-back, who assisted Cody Gakpo's opener, told BBC Radio 5 Live: "When it's a big game like this with two big teams, the first goal is always crucial.

"The message at half-time was much of the same and it went to plan and a bit more!

"We were so clinical, so good in every area of the pitch and we couldn't have ever envisaged this score but when players are confident that's what happens. Something just clicked.

"It felt like we were all over them and knew where the ball was going to be at all times. The lads can take a lot of confidence from it but we've got another big game next Saturday [at Bournemouth]

"It's three points in the right direction but we have to use it and kick on for the rest of the season now."

Andrew Robertson has found the World Cup a massive turn-off after Scotland's failure to qualify, as the Liverpool star admitted the tournament "bites away" at him.

The Scotland captain revealed he bonded with David Alaba of Real Madrid when they recently met by chance on holiday, with neither man on duty in Qatar while club-mates battle for glory.

Alaba missed out with Austria after a defeat to Wales in the first round of the UEFA play-offs, with Scotland going the same way after losing to Ukraine.

Robertson said having the World Cup happening in recent weeks had been "difficult", given his role as captain of his country, and initially he had "not really watched it".

He said he only wished the best for his Liverpool team-mates still in with a chance of reaching the December 18 final, and has begun watching games in the last few days.

"For Scotland it's obviously difficult," Robertson added. "We think we should've been there, but we didn't perform the way we did in the play-off, which was disappointing from our point of view, and we have to deal with that."

At the age of 28, Robertson knows time is finite when it comes to his chances of ever gracing the World Cup stage.

He has won almost all there is to win at club level with Liverpool, but success in international football will be difficult to come about. Scotland are ranked 40th by FIFA, so should at least stand a better chance of reaching the 2026 World Cup, when the tournament is expanded from 32 to 48 teams.

"When I went on holiday I actually bumped into David Alaba and he's in a similar boat obviously playing with Austria," Robertson told Liverpool's official website.

Like Robertson, Alaba skippers his national team. They next time both men meet will be in the Champions League last-16 tie between their respective teams.

"He said he'd been to a couple of Euros, but never been to a World Cup," Robertson said. "We were both kind of talking that we were getting on a bit, so the chances are running out for us to qualify."

Robertson sees the World Cup as "a massive, massive thing" that he wants to experience. Scotland made it through to the Euro 2020 finals, but their last World Cup trip was to France 98, when Robertson was four years old.

"The World Cup is the one that bites away at me," said the left-back. "I'll definitely have one more shot at it – maybe two, let's see. It is something you want to achieve and something you want to be part of, and in the future that's definitely a target of mine."

Liverpool's sketchy start to the Premier League season means they have ground to make up when the campaign resumes for the Reds on December 26, with a trip to Aston Villa.

Just six wins from 14 games have left Liverpool sixth in the table, albeit going into the World Cup break on a high after successive victories against Tottenham and Southampton.

Robertson said: "We've not got any time to waste, the start of the season hasn't been what we wanted. It's been nowhere near the standards that the fans have been used to for us, so it's important when we come back we try to hit the ground running because that’s all we can do."

There was a boost for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp when winger Luis Diaz returned to training at the club's camp in Dubai on Tuesday, with the Colombian fit again after recovering from a knee injury.

Jurgen Klopp hopes Liverpool reaching the Champions League knockout stages can give "everyone a lift" as the Reds aim to atone for an underwhelming Premier League start.

Klopp has progressed through every Champions League group stage with Liverpool, achieving a club-record sixth straight qualification with a 3-0 victory at Ajax on Wednesday.

Mohamed Salah became the third player to be directly involved in 50 or more goals in the competition for English clubs with a first-half finish and an assist after the interval for Harvey Elliott.

Darwin Nunez scored the other goal as Liverpool eased into the last 16, with Klopp hoping the Reds can carry that form into the Premier League, where they sit eighth – 12 points behind leaders Arsenal.

"We had a tough half an hour, where Ajax made a lot of pressure, and we had to defend a lot. That is fine, it is an away game in the Champions League," the Liverpool manager said on BT Sport.

"We changed system a little bit, we had to, they are a good football team, we wanted Darwin a little bit more central, so we had to adjust.

"We don't have to talk about [our form] all the time, we are through to the knockout stages and I will never take that for granted.

"Really important, it gives everyone a lift for the club. Really helpful, for tonight we all feel great, exhausted but great, and now we have a few days time to prepare for Leeds United."

Nunez inexplicably squandered a glorious first-half opportunity as he hit the post with the goal gaping, but made amends four minutes after the interval with a header from Robertson's corner.

The Scotland international revealed the former Benfica striker's half-time fury after a disappointing finish, though Robertson was delighted to see Nunez get on the scoresheet in a convincing victory.

"We had control. Darwin was really angry with himself at half-time," Robertson told BT Sport. "I sat next to him at half-time and told him I would put a cross in for him to score.

"We knew they had to win. They tried to start fast, and I don't think we calmed down quickly enough, but the important thing was we didn't concede.

"We managed to keep it tight, and then it was about getting the first goal. Three nil at this place, a really tough place to come and the clean sheet is so important for us now."

Liverpool will look to take the momentum from an impressive European win into the Premier League on Sunday, when they face strugglers Leeds.

Andy Robertson urged Liverpool to "wake up quickly" after a dire first-half performance resulted in a 4-1 humbling at Napoli in their Champions League opener on Wednesday.

Liverpool have failed to live up to early expectations in the Premier League, winning just twice in six games, and their poor start to the season continued in Naples.

Piotr Zielinski converted from the penalty spot after just five minutes, before Alisson denied Victor Osimhen's spot-kick – but that only denied the inevitable for the out-of-sorts Reds.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Giovanni Simeone, the latter on his Champions League debut, added further goals before half-time, with Zielinski adding a fourth after the interval.

It was just the fourth time Liverpool have found themselves three goals down at half-time in the competition, with Luis Diaz's second-half strike making little difference for Jurgen Klopp's side.

The thrashing marked the Reds' joint-heaviest defeat in the Champions League, and Robertson offered an honest appraisal after the game.

"We were miles too open. You can't come to a place like this and not be compact. They were by miles the better team," the Scotland international told BT Sport.

"Too many times they had spaces to run at us and cause us problems. You come away in the Champions League and you can't be wide open like that. We have to get back to basics and be compact.

"We deserve this result, even though we created chances. The way we were wide open they found so many spaces, that's not like us. It felt like they had an extra man.

"You have to be ready to fight. We weren't close enough to our mate when they went to press the ball, people weren't backing each other up soon enough.

"They hit the post within the first minute then they get a penalty, and another one and you're 3-0 down. We had two good chances to make it a bit different – but you can't dwell on that.

"We have to wake up quickly because we can't perform like that."

Liverpool will look to respond at home to Wolves in the Premier League on Saturday before hosting Ajax, who smashed Rangers 4-0 in Group A's other game on matchday one.

Jamie Carragher says Liverpool's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United is "a big worry" as the Reds' winless start to the Premier League season stretched to a third match.

A 16th-minute goal from Jadon Sancho put United into an early lead before Marcus Rashford added a second eight minutes into the second half. 

Mohamed Salah got a goal back for Liverpool with nine minutes remaining, but the hosts held on to claim a memorable victory.

Defeat for Liverpool at Old Trafford means they are down in 16th in the embryonic table, already seven points off early pacesetters Arsenal and five adrift of Manchester City.

Liverpool have now conceded the first goal in their last seven consecutive Premier League games, and Carragher is concerned by what he saw from his former side.

"Today is a big worry," he told Sky Sports. "It's not the result – you can come to Manchester United and lose, it's a tough place to come. 

"But it was the manner of the way they started the game, a derby game. Manchester United, it was obvious how they were going to start the game. 

"They had to start the first 15, 20 minutes like their lives depended on it and get this crowd involved. And they did. And it was like Liverpool weren't ready."

Left-back Andy Robertson bemoaned his side's poor first-half showing as Liverpool suffered a first league loss of 2022.

"It’s definitely not been the start of the season we wanted – we've been really poor," he told Sky Sports.

"We give every team a goal headstart, which is the base of the game. You can't keep giving yourself an uphill battle. 

"We've conceded an early goal again, started slow again, and that's what needs to change.

"The warm-up is probably the quietest I've ever heard this stadium. They wanted something to lift them, and we unfortunately gave them it."

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