LONDON: All three central characters in Saturday’s red card chaos during Arsenal’s 6-0 defeat at Chelsea have been cleared to put it all behind them.
FIFA referee Andre Marriner sent off Kieran Gibbs by mistake for what he judged to have been a goal-denying handball to a shot from Eden Hazard; in fact the handball had been committed by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The Football Association’s various disciplinary and refereeing panels have cleared Gibbs and downgraded the red card for Oxlade-Chamberlain to yellow after Arsenal argued, with TV evidence, that he had not stopped a goalscoring opportunity since Hazard’s shot was heading wide.
Marriner has also escaped punishment on the basis that he made a genuine human error. The 43-year-old, who apologised immediately for mixing up the identities of the players, will take charge of Southampton’s home game with Newcastle on Saturday.
Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the body responsible for training referees, decided he should be given the chance to get over his mistake immediately, rather than being stood down for the weekend.
PGMOL said cases of mistaken identity were “very rare”. It added: “While this was a difficult decision, Andre is disappointed that he failed to identify the correct player. He expressed his disappointment to Arsenal when he was made aware of the issue.”
Arsenal were already trailing 2-0 at the time of the incident. Hazard converted the penalty and defeat dropped Arsenal to fourth in the Premier League, seven points behind leaders Chelsea with a game in hand.