Footballer Gabriel Agbonlahor has felt the wrath of One Direction's fanatical fans.
The premier ace received death threats from irate One Direction fans after flying into a challenge with pop star Louis Tomlinson at Stiliyan Petrov's charity match.
The Aston Villa forward left the boyband member in a heap on the floor, with Tomlinson - who signed for Championship side Doncaster for charity last month - vomiting after the tackle. ...
See the whole story here, courtesy of Mail Online.
That said, my angle is this ... what is a referee to do in such a case?
Tomlinson, while a footballer (he is signed to a 3rd division club, the Doncaster Rovers as a walk on to the development team) was clearly not prepared for the match, or if he was, for no serious action in the match. As the video shows Gabriel Agbonlahor essentially knocked Tomlinson over awkwardly, not in a foul or carless way, yet we see a player in a heap on the field.
I felt for the referee at that point. Here we have a friendly match, in fact a charity match, with teams that have mostly present and just past football stars, and a couple of celebrities that I would not call "regular" athletes. What is the referees role here? Protect the celebrities at all costs? Protect the football stars? Make it a good show for everyone? Enforce the LOTG and assure the match comports with tradition?
Yes. It is all of those things.
It is an impossible challenge that requires the balancing skills of a Wallenda.
While I can go into war stories about my most vidid experiences about friendlies between international and MLS team, or the most dangerous with Steve Nichol's Boston Bulldogs agains the "Brazil Legends" (many of the 1994 Brazil World Cup team), I will leave it at the following for each to ponder.
If you are asked to do a friendly ... or even "worse" a charity match, think very carefully about how you will comport yourself, the match, and work with the players and promoters to come to a mutually acceptable outcome.
Such matches are really fun as you rub elbows with people you likely never do, but they are the ultimate high wire act for a referee. Success can lead to better matches. Failure can lead to a quick fall.