Jermaine Jenas has apologised and admitted he “got it wrong” after attacking officials on social media during the 2-2 draw between Arsenal and his former club Tottenham.
The BBC presenter and former England midfielder called referee Robert Jones a “s--------” less than two months after fronting a campaign against match official abuse.
Martin Cassidy, the chief executive of the referees’ charity Ref Support UK, branded the comments “really disgraceful”, prompting Jenas to acknowledge he was in the wrong.
“I hold my hands up, I got it wrong yesterday,” Jenas wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “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. My emotions got the better of me and I apologise to The FA and to all match officials.”
In August, Jenas had led the “Love Football, Protect The Game” campaign jointly organised by the FA, Premier League, EFL and Professional Footballers’ Association.
However, during the match on Sunday, Jenas appeared to take issue with Cristian Romero being penalised for handball following the intervention of the Video Assistant Referee.
Jenas, who presents The One Show for the BBC and occasionally appears as a Match of the Day pundit, posted: “Complete s-------- off [sic] a referee! They’re all ruining our game!”
Bukayo Saka converted the spot-kick to put Arsenal 2-1 ahead, before Tottenham quickly equalised. Multiple amateur leagues were cancelled last year after a shocking upturn in violence and abuse, with 380 players and coaches banned.
Telegraph Sport reported in May how the issue is a major priority for the FA, which announced a new punishment allowing amateur leagues to hit teams with points deductions for abusing referees.
A three-year “landmark strategy” at the FA aims to make the specialism “an attractive choice”, “improve the refereeing experience” and “enhance referee performance and development”.