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Pique makes controversial VAR gesture after Messi goal disallowed as fuming Barcelona hint at Real Madrid favouritism

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pique makes controversial var gesture after messi goal disallowed as fuming barcelona hint at real madrid favouritism

GERARD PIQUE was caught cheekily mocking VAR with a controversial gesture after Lionel Messi’s disallowed goal against Villarreal.

This comes after bitter rivals Real Madrid were awarded a penalty by VAR over Athletic Bilbao to steer them four points clear of Barca in the race for the title.

 Gerard Pique made a controversial VAR gesture after Messi's goal was disallowed

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Gerard Pique made a controversial VAR gesture after Messi’s goal was disallowed

Real look on the verge of securing the La Liga title as Sergio Ramos scored his tenth goal of the campaign when he found the net from the spot in the second half.

Barca responded in style at Villarreal thanks to an Antoine Griezmann brace, while Luis Suarez and Ansu Fati were also on target.

But golden boy Messi was denied a chance to get on the scoresheet in the second-half after a VAR review – and Pique seemed to poke fun at the controversial call.

The Spaniard appeared to type on an imaginary keyboard and mocked the hand signal for VAR.

After the final whistle the 33-year-old claimed he did not remember doing it but was said to have flashed a cheeky smile when discussing the matter.

As reported by Marca, he said: “I don’t remember,

“During the game, you do things with the adrenaline… I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Los Blancos had been awarded their penalty after Marcelo was judged by VAR to have been mowed down by Dani Garcia.

As reported by Sport, Garcia hit back at the decision, and said: “I saw I had the situation under control and, through bad luck, I stepped on him. At no moment was it possible that he would get the ball before me. If you give one, you give the other,

“VAR is ruining football.”

Bilbao captain Iker Muniain also waded in and hinted that some clubs get preferential treatment from the technology.

He said: “Raul Garcia’s been stamped on and they haven’t even revised it, that’s the difference,

“We’ve seen the theme in these weeks since the restart, depending on which teams it is, some decisions are given. Everyone can draw their own conclusions.”



VAR has been a hot topic in Spain since the restart of La Liga, – particularly from the Catalan camp as Barca’s two-point lead in the table has evaporated following the shutdown of football, with Los Blancos taking over.

Nou Camp chief Josep Maria Bartomeu suggested on Sunday that the system is stacked in favour of rivals Real.

After Barca’s victory over Villarreal he said: “I watched San Mames match until almost the end of the second half,

“I feel bad because we have the best league in the world and VAR after coronavirus isn’t fair.

“It has changed some results and always favours the same team.”

While an ex-La Liga referee shockingly claimed that 90 per cent of Spanish top-flight referees are “fans” of Zinedine Zidane’s side.

Lionel Messi scores 700th goal with panenka vs Atletico Madrid

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Dani Ceballos pictured wearing Real Betis shirt as he considers rejoining them instead of Arsenal in transfer window

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dani ceballos pictured wearing real betis shirt as he considers rejoining them instead of arsenal in transfer window

DANI CEBALLOS may have dropped a hint regarding his future after he was snapped wearing a Real Betis shirt on Monday night.

The 24-year-old has shown he still has a soft spot for his former side, who he made his debut with in 2014 after coming through their academy.

Spanish midfielder Dani Ceballos has been spotted wearing a Real Betis shirt

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Spanish midfielder Dani Ceballos has been spotted wearing a Real Betis shirtCredit: Instagram danifuli10

Ceballos – who has never shied away from the love he has for the Andalusian outfit – faces an uncertain summer at Real Madrid.


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The Spanish midfielder starred on loan at Arsenal during the 2019/20 season, chipping in with two goals and two assists in 37 games in all competitions.

He became an integral part of the Gunners side under Mikel Arteta following the restart of football in June, as he helped the North Londoners win the FA Cup.

There had been hope from Arsenal fans that Ceballos would return to the club.

But a picture has emerged of Ceballos wearing a Betis jersey while playing the board game Parcheesi with friends on Monday night.

Arsenal are understood to want to bring the player back on another loan deal, while Manuel Pellegrini is looking to permanently sign him.

Commenting on his future in an interview with El Partidazo de COPE, he said: “I’m not thinking about whether or not I can play for Real Madrid, Arsenal or another club.”

Ceballos, 24, starred in Arsenal's FA Cup final victory over Chelsea

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Ceballos, 24, starred in Arsenal’s FA Cup final victory over ChelseaCredit: EPA
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He then told Cadena SER: “It’s a satisfaction to have won the FA Cup. I’m thrilled to end the season with a title.”

Before adding: “I have a lot love for Betis, for everyone that works at that club.

“They know the love I have for them and we’be been in contact all season. Betis means a lot me.”

Lucas Torreira says ‘if I have to leave Arsenal it will be for the best’ with club ‘open to transfer’ amid AC Milan interest

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Jo Konta suffers heart palpitations on court and needs medical assistance in WTA Tour loss to Marie Bouzkova

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JO KONTA revealed she suffered a heart palpitation last night as she lost her first match back on the WTA Tour since lockdown.

The British No1 was beaten 6-4 6-4 by world No48 Marie Bouzkova in Kentucky in the first round of the Lexington Open.

Konta checks her pulse after suffering heart palpitations

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Konta checks her pulse after suffering heart palpitations
Konta needed medical treatment during her loss to Bouzkova

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Konta needed medical treatment during her loss to Bouzkova

However, she required medical treatment as early as the second game of her first match since March against the Czech player.

In a contest played in extremely humid conditions following some rain, Konta called the doctor to the court after only a few minutes of play.

She kept holding two fingers to her throat to check her pulse.

The 29-year-old later revealed it was the FOURTH time she has suffered the problem but insisted it is not a threat to her career and she is physically healthy to play elite sport.

The world No15 said: “I sometimes have a heart palpitation.

“My heart rate shoots up for no reason, we didn’t have a long point, I wasn’t gassing in any way in my lungs.

“It makes me a bit light-headed. I just had to see the doctor and the physio.

“I was having all the checks. I am as fit as a fiddle but it can happen.

Konta revealed this is the fourth time she has had heart palpitations

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Konta revealed this is the fourth time she has had heart palpitations

“It took a while to settle down until about 4-3 in the first set, but then it did settle down and I was able to concentrate on the tennis.

“This was the fourth time it’s ever happened. The first time was in Birmingham in 2017, the second time in Beijing in 2018 in an evening match that I played.

“The third time was two months ago, in a training block on the clay. I wouldn’t say there’s a massive common denominator.

“We don’t know why it happens, it’s in stressful situations, in non-stressful situations.

“I am worried. It’s not ideal. I am going to have another test, and hopefully measure it.”

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Referee who was attacked in an amateur game in London says he now fears being ‘MURDERED on pitch’

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referee who was attacked in an amateur game in london says he now fears being murdered on pitch

A shocking assault of an amateur referee has led to fears a match official will end up being killed in grassroots football.

Satyam Toki required treatment from an ambulance crew after he was punched three times in the face by a player he sent off in a pre-season friendly on Sunday.

The 28-year-old, who has a one-month old daughter, says he was lucky not to be left blind or brain damaged and is now ‘scared to referee again’ following the incident, which was filmed and shared on social media and has been investigated by police.

Satyam Toki (pictured) was assaulted during a pre-season match he was refereeing on Sunday and suffered a nasty cut above his left eye having been punched three times

Satyam Toki (pictured) was assaulted during a pre-season match he was refereeing on Sunday and suffered a nasty cut above his left eye having been punched three times

Satyam Toki (pictured) was assaulted during a pre-season match he was refereeing on Sunday and suffered a nasty cut above his left eye having been punched three times

Toki had sent the player off and was then attacked with team-mates forced to intervene

Toki had sent the player off and was then attacked with team-mates forced to intervene

Toki had sent the player off and was then attacked with team-mates forced to intervene

Toki has told Sportsmail he is pressing charges against his attacker – who is a newly-qualified teacher – because next time he ‘might bring a knife and murder a referee on the pitch’.

And that decision has been backed by referee groups, the Referees’ Association and Ref Support UK, who have both warned that an official will lose their life on the job unless they receive greater protection and offenders are handed tougher punishments.

In just the second weekend since amateur football resumed following the Covid-19 lockdown, Toki was taking charge of a friendly between NW London FC – who play in the 11th-tier Middlesex Premier Division – and Sporting Club de Mundial, a Hackney Sunday League side formed by football magazine, Mundial.

But the match in Acton, West London was abandoned after only 42 minutes when the level-five Indian-born referee suffered a bloodied eye after he was repeatedly struck by a Mundial player.

Toki had initially shown him a yellow card for dissent, an offence which leads to a 10-minute sin bin in grassroots, but then upgraded it to a red after the player threatened him.

‘I sent him off and then everything kicked off,’ says Toki, who works as a train conductor and, until this weekend, had ambitions to referee in the Football League. ‘He lost his temper and attacked me, punching me three times on my face. He tried to attack me again but some of the players stopped him. He then ran away from the ground.

The incident is by no means an isolated one and many referees have experienced abuse

The incident is by no means an isolated one and many referees have experienced abuse

The incident is by no means an isolated one and many referees have experienced abuse

The match was abandoned and Toki is scared to step onto the pitch and officiate again

The match was abandoned and Toki is scared to step onto the pitch and officiate again

The match was abandoned and Toki is scared to step onto the pitch and officiate again

‘I had excessive bleeding above my left eye. He was wearing a bracelet on his right hand. That was my mistake because I should have checked for jewellery before the match. But when he punched me, he caught me with the metal thing on his wrist. He hit me with something very sharp.

‘The manager of the home team and I called 999 for the police and someone else called for an ambulance. Thankfully I didn’t have a serious injury but he could have easily caught me in the eye and then I don’t know what would have happened.

‘My wife told me that I got away very lightly. She said, “What if you suffered loss of vision or serious brain damage – how could my family have survived?”.

‘I have been refereeing for six years, it is my hobby. But I am really scared to go out and referee again. I am still shocked from the incident.

‘I can’t believe this kind of thing can happen in football, especially in a friendly. I am still imagining what would have happened to me if this was a league game with something riding on it.

‘My family are concerned about my welfare and they don’t want me to go and referee again. I would now think 10 times to go back out there.

Toki feels he had to press charges on his attacker as he owes it to his fellow referees

Toki feels he had to press charges on his attacker as he owes it to his fellow referees

Toki feels he had to press charges on his attacker as he owes it to his fellow referees 

‘I am paid £40 a match but no amount of money is worth it to go out there and get serious injuries and be disabled for the rest of your life.’

Toki was initially reluctant to press charges, saying he was ‘influenced’ by the police, who informed him his attacker was a teacher and would lose his job. But after seeking advice from fellow referees on social media, he feels he owes it to his colleagues to take further action.

‘If I don’t press charges, this individual would get away and tomorrow, who knows, he might bring a knife and murder a referee on the pitch,’ adds Toki.

‘He should be punished as much as possible as a lesson for every other individual just to think before doing this sort of action. Every team should have respect for someone refereeing their game because if there is no referee, they won’t be playing their game.’

In a statement, Mundial said: ‘We categorically condemn the horrific actions by one of our players towards the referee. The individual involved has been completely removed from the football club.’

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson confirmed: ‘Police were called at 15:16hrs on Sunday, 9 August, to reports of an assault at a sports club in East Acton Lane, W3. Officers and London Ambulance Service attended. Following initial enquiries, no allegations were substantiated.’

One player had his hands on his head in disbelief at the shocking incident in the game

One player had his hands on his head in disbelief at the shocking incident in the game

One player had his hands on his head in disbelief at the shocking incident in the game

Sadly, Sunday’s incident was not an isolated one with footage emerging on the same day from another game in London when a referee was kicked on the floor and surrounded by players.

In their most-recently released figures, the FA said there were just 61 assaults on officials in the 2017-18 season. But those statistics only include attacks that were reported and then proven at a hearing.

In a recent study by the University of Portsmouth, 18.9 per cent of the 2,056 referees that were questioned in England said they had experienced physical abuse on the pitch.

‘We really do believe that, unfortunately, someone will be murdered as a match official,’ says Martin Cassidy, a former Football League referee and now chief executive of charity Ref Support UK, who has been helping Toki. ‘If that happens, we will be holding to account those people who we believe are responsible for not bringing in stronger punishments.’

In 2017, the FA introduced a mandatory five-year ban for anyone who assaults a match official, which can be extended to 10 years if it causes serious injury. For physical contact or attempted physical contact, a 182-day suspension is recommended, with a minimum of 112 days.

Cassidy, though, thinks referees should wear body cameras to enhance their protection and be able to prove offences – but those devices are currently outlawed by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the game’s rule makers.

‘We think it is irresponsible not to even have a pilot of body cams,’ adds Cassidy, who is considering challenging that IFAB rule at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. ‘I am starting to believe that they will only entertain a pilot if a match official is killed.’

The 28-year-old has a young daughter and feels lucky he wasn't blinded or brain damaged

The 28-year-old has a young daughter and feels lucky he wasn't blinded or brain damaged

The 28-year-old has a young daughter and feels lucky he wasn’t blinded or brain damaged 

The Referees’ Association are campaigning for tougher criminal sentences and have written to the Sentencing Council to suggest changes to their guidelines – a submission which has won the support of 50 MPs.

When sentencing for assaults, an aggravating factor that a court must consider is if the offence was committed against those ‘providing a service to the public’. Currently, however, this covers offences against the likes of shop workers and traffic wardens, but not referees, leading to some lenient sentencing.

In 2018, amateur footballer Luke Nicholls avoided jail despite knocking out referee Henry Ifesi, while one year earlier, Kieran Kimberley was also spared prison after headbutting official Craig Ward.

‘One day, we will be speaking about a referee being killed,’ Referees’ Association chairman Paul Field tells Sportsmail. ‘All the warning signs are here for it to happen and we have to do something about it.

‘This is all about prevention. The work we are doing with the Sentencing Council is all about having a proper deterrent to support match officials.

‘There needs to be an upgrade on how offenders are sentenced. The next level up would put us on parity with a traffic or park warden. We are doing our lawful duty and we don’t expect on a Sunday morning to be attacked.

‘The incident on Sunday was just disgraceful. Football has been waiting to restart for months and here we are in the second week with an assault. It beggar’s belief.

‘The FA has done as much as they can but there needs to be a real deterrent which sits behind it. It is time the Government stepped up to the plate and that the courts supported match officials.’

An FA spokesperson said: ‘We are aware of an incident that took place during a pre-season game on Sunday and we are working with London FA to provide support and ensure it is thoroughly investigated. Supporting match officials, at every level of the game, remains a key priority for The FA and for each of the 50 County FAs around the country as part of The FA’s Respect campaign.’ 

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