Mike Dean’s regret after Tomas Soucek red card led to "petrol bomb" threats

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Former Premier League referee Mike Dean admitted he wished he stuck with his original on-pitch decision, after he received death threats for giving West Ham ace Tomas Soucek a red card in February 2021.

After 22 years of officiating at the highest level, Dean developed a thick skin when it came to receiving abuse from players, managers and fans, both on and off the pitch. However, the name calling and ridicule took a very sinister turn when the 54-year-old and his family were subjected to terrifying death threats including a chilling warning of a "petrol bombing" at his family home.

Those horrific messages followed a hugely controversial decision, in which he chose to send Soucek off for what appeared to be an accidental elbow on Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, after consulting the VAR pitch-side monitor. Reflecting on the incident, Dean admitted he wished he hadn't change his mind after watching several replays of the coming together.

READ MORE: Ex-ref Mike Dean loving retirement life as he soaks up Spanish sun sinking pints

"I saw the decision on the field and I was more than happy to go with a yellow," Dean said to the BBC Football Daily podcast when asked about the controversial incident. "All the players looked happy and then I think I said to the VAR, 'the players are comfortable and Mitrovic has overreacted a bit'.

"Then all of a sudden I heard the VAR say 'you need to go and look at the screen, we need to show you something, there has been a movement of a player,' a face or punch, I can't quite remember. I was kind of going over thinking it's not, but it's very, very hard to stick with the on field decision when you get sent over – but I wish I had have.

"It would have saved me a hell of a lot of trouble I had off the pitch after that game." The "trouble" Dean was referring to was a series of spine-chilling messages that were sent to his daughter, shortly after the red card.

Does the Premier League, EFL, clubs, and social media companies need to do more to crack down on online abuse? Let us know in the comments section below.

"Yeah, it wasn't good," Dean added, when asked about the off-field abuse. "My daughter had some stuff through, because she is on social media and I am not – she got death threats.

"They said 'we know where you live, we're going to petrol bomb your house', that kind of stuff. I told the Premier League, they got the police involved. And to be fair, sometimes you want to keep it hush-hush, but my wife said, 'let's get it out there and let people know what’s going on'."

Fortunately for Dean and his family, the police did manage to catch up with the online social media trolls. "Luckily enough for me, I think they [the police] found who the people were, they were people in Ireland," Dean added. "They traced them down because the stupid guys left their addresses and stuff on, so the police did something to them – I don’t know what, but I don't really want to know to be fair."


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