Referee explains why Aleksandar Mitrovic was sent off for push but Bruno Fernandes wasn't
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Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher has explained why Aleksandar Mitrovic was given a red card for his push on an official – and why Bruno Fernandes escaped punishment for something similar.
Fulham striker Mitrovic was shown a straight red by Chris Kavanagh during his side's 3-1 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday.
The Serbian striker was unhappy at Willian's red card for a handball on the line and was sent packing by the referee for his aggressive reaction – in a nightmare few minutes for Fulham.
Yet many fans called out at the apparent 'double standards' of the officials, after Fernandes appeared to push an assistant referee during United's recent 7-0 defeat at Liverpool.
Gallagher, however, believes there was a difference between the two incidents and that Mitrovic was justly punished for being far too aggressive towards Kavanagh.
“I said at the time that I didn’t condone what Fernandes did. I don’t think it is wise to touch a match official,” Gallagher said on Sky Sports News.
“However, I don’t think that is aggressive. It is petulant from Fernandes, and he could have easily been given a yellow card for that. People would have accepted that.
“But I still don’t think the Fernandes incident is a red card offence but the Mitrovic incident is.
"I don't think any player would have looked at the Fernandes incident and thought 'oh that gives me licence to do that' – I can't imagine that for one second. They are two totally divorced situations. Neither player should have done what he did, but one [Mitrovic] went far too far.
Aleksandar Mitrović 🆚 Bruno Fernandes— Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 20, 2023
Dermot Gallagher discusses the difference between Aleksandar Mitrović touching Chris Kavanagh and Bruno Fernandes touching the linesman against Liverpool. 🤔 pic.twitter.com/Zmq0hYie3t
“We spoke the other week about Bruno Fernandes when I was of the opinion it wasn’t a red card offence, but I did say I don’t condone anyone touching a referee. However, in this case I think it is much more aggressive. He’s got hold of the ref and pulled him back.
“I think Chris Kavanagh has done an absolutely fantastic job for himself and referees in general because he kept his cool.
“He didn’t react to it or get sucked into it. He kept his composure and I really admire him. He stood up for what referees stand for.”
On the ban that Mitrovic should get for the incident – which could be more than the standard three matches – Gallagher said "that's not for me to decide". That decision will rest with the FA.