Michael Oliver has voiced gratitude for the support he received following his decision to award a late penalty to Real Madrid in their Champions League quarterfinal against Juventus, after being named as referee for next month’s FA Cup final.
Oliver was at the centre of controversy after his decision enabled Cristiano Ronaldo to put Madrid through to the semifinals 4-3 on aggregate.
The 33-year-old was heavily criticised by Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who was sent off in the aftermath of the penalty award. Buffon told reporters after the match that Oliver had “a garbage bin for a heart,” while threats and abuse directed toward him and his wife, also a referee, was “strongly condemned” by UEFA.
On Tuesday, the Football Association announced that Oliver had been appointed to referee the cup final between Manchester United and Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday, May 19.
He will be assisted by Lee Betts and Ian Hussin, with Lee Mason as the fourth official. Neil Swarbrick will be the first video assistant referee (VAR) in FA Cup Final history.
Oliver told the official FA website that the support he had received in the aftermath of the Champions League final had boosted him.
“It was a weird few days,” he said. “But it was nice that so many people, both within the game and outside the game, were keen to offer their support.
“It was quite humbling, actually, and it meant a lot. I had people coming up to me in the street and people from inside the game were sending me messages of support. It’s a nice thing to know I’ve got that backing.”
He said he had been “very proud and humbled to receive the call” telling him he was taking charge of the cup final.
“As your career progresses it becomes a realistic target, but it’s not a call you ever expect to take,” he said. “This opportunity only comes around once in a referee’s career.”
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