Michael Oliver has received a show of support from Italian football fans after the dramatics of Wednesday night led some fans to attack him and his wife on social media.
Oliver had taken charge of Juventus' Champions League quarter-final tie against Real Madrid, and in the final minutes, he awarded Madrid a penalty and sent off Juve keeper Gianluigi Buffon for protesting.
At 3-0 and heading for extra-time, Cristiano Ronaldo scored from to spot to make an aggregate score of 4-3, meaning Madrid advanced to the semi-final.
Buffon's fury toward Oliver continued after the game with the famous shot-stopper stating the English ref had "rubbish in place of a heart."
"He must be a beast. He can't be human. He should be in the stands eating crisps, drinking Coca Cola."
Gianluigi Buffon slams referee Michael Oliver in his passionate post-match interview with @DesKellyBTS after his red card against Real Madrid.
Absolute 🔥 pic.twitter.com/hC9Il8fXj1— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 12, 2018
As reported by the BBC, Oliver's wife Lucy - who is also a referee - was abused on social media after the game.
Here’s a small sample of the abuse received by Michael Oliver’s wife @LucyOliver_7 (also a ref) since he was pushed and called a bastard by Buffon....(tombstone pic sent too). #notfriendlybanter pic.twitter.com/RkMkGXXAVC— Jacqui Oatley (@JacquiOatley) April 13, 2018
Since, Italian fans have come out in defence of the Olivers with #ItaliaLovesMichaelOliver trending on Twitter and many condemning the abuse.
A great man does not seek applause or place; he seeks for truth; he seeks the road to happiness, and what he ascertains, he gives to others.April 12, 2018
Sometimes to be a hero it’s enough doing our daily job
Thanks MichaelApril 12, 2018
A man who was able to stand up against tiranny and villainy that ruled in Italy with a simple and courageous act of defiance: giving a right penalty against FC Juventus. The hero we needed. #ItaliaLovesMichaelOliver— Dox (@Ma_Do_Sd) April 12, 2018
Hey Gary, Italian football lovers are paying their respect to Michael Oliver with the hashtag #ItaliaLovesMichaelOliver . It's trending in Italy atm. Help us spread the love.— viulenzą (@viuleenza) April 12, 2018