Jermaine Jenas apologises after posting criticism about referee Rob Jones

Jermaine Jenas
Jermaine Jenas officially announced his retirement from football in 2016

Football pundit Jermaine Jenas has apologised for criticising referee Rob Jones, saying he “got it wrong”.

Jenas used an abusive term on X, formerly Twitter, and added “they’re [referees] all ruining our game” after Jones awarded Arsenal a penalty in Sunday’s north London derby draw.

The former England midfielder had been criticised by refereeing bodies.

“My emotions got the better of me and I apologise to The FA and to all match officials,” Jenas posted on X.

Ex-Tottenham player Jenas was part of the Football Association’s ‘Love Football, Protect the Gameexternal-link‘ campaign prior to the start of the 2023-24 season.

Jenas also hosted a Channel 4 documentary in 2021, tracking the rise in online abuse of black players and he spoke with an online troll.

In a post on Monday afternoon, Jenas, who co-hosts The One Show, added: “I hold my hands up, I got it wrong yesterday. I should know, more than most, the responsibility we have as fans, players and pundits and the impact our words online can have as it’s an area I’ve been vocal in.”

Referee Jones did not award a penalty when the ball hit the arm of Tottenham defender Cristian Romero, but the Video Assistant Referee advised him to take another look on the pitchside monitor and he overturned his initial decision.

Referees’ Association president Paul Field said he was “very disappointed” with Jenas’ initial comment.

Field added: “It’s this type of thing that makes a referees job much harder at grassroots. Mr Jenas has a responsibility to the game and we look forward to seeing an apology in the near future.”

In response to Jenas’ original social media post, charity Ref Support UK said: “This is a disgraceful tweet and you should be ashamed. Your tweet encourages online abuse of referees and considering your role on TV your employers need to give their head a wobble.

“Remember Anthony Taylor and his family were attacked at an airport because of antics such as yours.”

Referees’ body the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) say they will regularly release in-game audio of on-field officials and VAR teams this season in a TV programme called Match Officials: Mic’d Up, hosted by PGMOL chief refereeing officer Howard Webb.

The first episode aired on 5 September when Webb was joined by ex-Premier League striker Michael Owen to talk through six controversial incidents from the opening weeks of 2023-24.

A BBC investigation earlier this year found that hundreds of grassroots referees fear for their safety and are dissatisfied with current measures to tackle abuse.

Over 900 referees in England took part in a Radio 5 Live questionnaire, with 293 saying they had been physically abused by spectators, players, coaches or managers, while some described being punched, headbutted and spat at.

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