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The Referee who kicked back

Tony Chapron was a highly respected French referee.

He had been refereeing in the top flight of French football since 2004, and had taken charge of more than 400 games, including the French Cup final in 2014. And  his services were also in demand abroad, and he had also officiated in the Chinese Super League. He had also taken charge of matches in the Champions League, and was part of the officiating team for the 2010 World Cp qualifiers.

His career in the middle was not without controversy.

At the time of his “enforced” retirement from the game he had handed out 65 red cards, more than any other official in Ligue One. And, after Zlatan Ibrahimović scored a hat-trick in a league match in 2015, Chapron refused to give him the match ball after the game, because of controversial remarks that the Swede had made criticising referees the previous week.

However, a rush of blood to the head saw his career come to a dramatic end after he took charge of a league match between Nantes and Paris Saint-Germain in January 2018.

In the latter stages of the match, PSG were on the attack, led by Kylian Mbappé, who broke free of his markers and was bearing down on goal. Payers from both sides were heading towards the Nantes penalty area, when Diego Carlos of Nantes accidentally crossed paths with referee Chapron, sending him sprawling to the floor.

Enraged, Chapron staggered to his feet as the red mist descended, and aimed a kick at the defender with his boot. He then sent off Carlos, who was already on a yellow card, meaning he would technically serve a one match ban

Afterwards, Chapron tried to defend his actions explaining that, at the time of the collision, he had felt a sharp pain where he had recently suffered an injury, and that he had acted instinctively.

The immediate reaction to the incident was incredulity. The Nantes president was seen laughing when the red card was brandished, whilst players form both sides thought he had made a mistake in the heat of the moment.

But the image of him swinging a  foot at Carlos soon went viral all over the world, and it was no longer a laughing matter for the French Football Federation.

The next day, Chapron, having viewed footage of the incident again, acknowledged that the coming together had been an accident, and accepted that his reaction had been inappropriate.

Meanwhile, Carlos had his rescinded.

Chapron was suspended until further notice and when a disciplinary commission met in Paris. He was given a six-month ban from the sport, with the commission making it clear that match officials could not take matters into their own hands, however aggrieved they might feel.

He had already announced his decision to retire at the end of the season and he never picked up his whistle In anger again.

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