The referee who controversially sent off Manchester United winger Nani during last night’s Champions League defeat to Real Madrid can point to the laws of the game as justification for his decision.
Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir dismissed Nani after his boot connected with Alvaro Arbeloa’s chest as they went for a high ball.
It comes as former Manchester United captain Bryan Robson was critical of Cakir's decision and of another former United captain, Roy Keane.
He said on Sky Sports News: “I think the only person in the stadium who thought it was a sending off was Roy Keane (who was working as a pundit for ITV).
“I’m glad Keane didn’t take up refereeing as a profession.”
The decision infuriated United boss Alex Ferguson and pundits claimed the Portuguese winger had been watching the ball and did not intend to hurt his opponent.
However, the laws of the game make no mention of intent.
They state: “A player is guilty of serious foul play if he uses excessive force or brutality against an opponent when challenging for the ball when it is in play.
“A tackle that endangers the safety of an opponent must be sanctioned as serious foul play.
“A player who is guilty of serious foul play should be sent off and play is restarted with a direct free-kick from the position where the offence occurred.”
Lou Macari, the former United midfielder, branded Cakir's performance "rubbish''.
“I thought it was a strange decision – a referee from Turkey who we hadn’t heard of. He had no great reputation of being one of the top referees,” he told BBC Radio Five.
When it was pointed out that Cakir was well regarded in Europe, he said: “He’s still rubbish.
“You don’t have referees like that for these big games. The referee’s assessor was there last night and he’s a proper referee from the past, (Pierluigi) Collina.
“I am sure he looked at the decision and thought, ’he’s got it wrong’.
“I couldn’t believe it when he pulled out the red card – it was simply a wrong decision.”