The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) has condemned the abuse directed at referee Michael Oliver and his wife Lucy following the Champions League tie between Real Madrid and Juventus.
Oliver awarded Real a decisive 93rd-minute penalty in Wednesday’s quarter-final and was subsequently criticised by Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and parts of the Italian media.
The BBC has reported that police are investigating abusive text messages sent to Oliver’s wife – a Women’s Super League referee who also officiates men’s non-league football – after her mobile number was posted on social media.
Officers have reportedly deactivated the phone number, although Lucy Oliver’s Twitter account has also been targeted by some supporters.
“We are supporting Michael and Lucy Oliver and condemn the abuse Lucy has received on social media,” a PGMOL spokesperson said in a statement.
A spokesman for Twitter told the BBC that several offensive tweets reported by Lucy Oliver have been removed for violating its abuse policy.
But Oliver then awarded Real a penalty and veteran Italy international Buffon – who is seven years older than the Englishman – confronted the official and was sent off.
Buffon later told the media that the English official had a “bag of rubbish for a heart” and the 40-year-old defended his actions on Italian television on Saturday.
“I have to defend my team-mates and fans, even in a not very composed fashion. I had to let that out, even if it damaged my reputation,” Buffon said.
“You find a way to speak, right or wrong, that at times can seem excessive – but this is me, I am Gigi Buffon.
“I’d say them all again – maybe with a different type of language, one that was more civilised, let’s say. The content remains and I stand by all of it.”
UEFA has not yet commented on the matter, while Oliver has continued with his Premier League duties.
The 33-year-old Northumberland referee was the fourth official at the Huddersfield-Watford game on Saturday and is due to take charge of the West Ham-Stoke relegation battle on Monday night.