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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 5 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 7, 2006

Referees' chief Hackett hits out at Chelsea criticism

Referees' chief Keith Hackett has criticised Chelsea players for questioning the integrity of Graham Poll and will now meet boss Jose Mourinho to 'run through a number of issues'.

Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard will both speak to the Football Association following claims referee Poll targeted Chelsea during their defeat to Tottenham on Sunday at White Hart Lane.

Poll will also be spoken to by the FA as they gather information, as will his two assistants and the fourth official. Hackett, meanwhile, will meet Mourinho.

'Mr Mourinho is a world-class, top manager and I will be privileged to speak to him and I am pleased he wants to do that with me,' Hackett said. 'It shows he cares and wants to understand.

'We have already been in touch since Sunday and I will meet him again at the club's training ground if necessary to run through a number of issues regarding referees.'

Cole was angered by Poll's performance in the defeat to Tottenham, and the full-back was one of six yellow cards issued to Chelsea players during the match, with John Terry picking up two of them.

Terry claims Poll offered two different explanations for his second booking but Hackett said: 'All the referee has to do in terms of the player is ask what the player's name is and then issue a card, he doesn't have to explain why that player has been sent off.'

Hackett, head of the Professional Game Match Officials Board, added on Sky Sports News: 'What we are talking about is the integrity of one of my referees and I want to assure the public that I have some doubt - without trying to prejudice the case - about what is claimed to have been said.'

Hackett believes listening to a recording of Poll's performance will prove the official did not target Mourinho's side.

'We now wire our referees up so we have Graham operating with an open mic and the two assistant referees and the fourth official can actually listen in to what is said during the game,' he added.

'That level of conversation was listened to by three other people and it will be interesting to see how that proceeds.'

When asked whether Poll denies targeting Chelsea, Hackett added: 'Absolutely, that denial is without any doubt. He's made that very clear.'

Poll made a high-profile blunder at the World Cup in the summer when he booked Croatia's Josip Simunic three times in a match, but Hackett insists the Tring official is 'still top drawer'.

'In the last two seasons Mourinho has invited Graham to talk to the players about various aspects of the law and its interpretation,' he added.

'Sometimes a confident referee can be perceived as an arrogant referee but in terms of his approach to the game, his post-match analysis and his willingness to improve, Graham is still top drawer.'

An FA spokesman confirmed they will be speaking to Cole and Lampard.

'We are communicating with the four match officials as well as Chelsea and Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard individually regarding the claims made today,' he said.

'The priority at this stage is to gather information.'

Chelsea have confirmed that Mourinho is to meet Hackett, as revealed exclusively by PA Sport.

The pair have been in touch with each other regarding a number of issues relating to referees following the heated clash between Chelsea and Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

Chelsea lost the game 2-1 and Mourinho went on to criticise Poll for a number of controversial decisions he made during the game.

Mourinho sent Hackett a private email yesterday in which he stressed his respect for the head of the Professional Game Match Officials Board.

Although the exact contents of the email are to remain private, in general terms it addressed some refereeing issues which have arisen so far this season.

Mourinho made it clear he was open to discuss these and hearing the views of all sides.

Mourinho said: 'I am happy to hear Mr Hackett is prepared to meet and I will meet with him when he wants. I have confidence that he is a football man and he respects the views of other football people.'

Chelsea's statement read: 'Chelsea can confirm that Jose Mourinho and Keith Hackett have been in contact since the match against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.'