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By ESPN Staff

Under-fire Poll given full backing by refs' chief

Referees' chief Keith Hackett has insisted under-fire official Graham Poll was absolutely right to send off Everton's James McFadden.

The Scottish forward claimed he was sent off in the Carling Cup defeat by Arsenal because Poll thought he called him a 'f****** cheat' when he had in fact said 'that was f****** s***'.

Everton manager David Moyes was furious with the decision but Hackett, head of the Professional Game Match Officials, said that both outbursts warranted straight red cards and gave Poll his full backing to continue refereeing the top matches.

He told PA Sport: 'Both of those statements fulfilled the criteria of a red-card offence therefore the referee has on this occasion followed the rules.

'If one uttered those words to a policeman what do you think he would do? We're grown up about these things but there's a tolerance level and players have to be aware they have a responsibility to operate within the rules.

'Whatever way you look at the laws of association football, insulting language is not allowed on the field of play. If you are operating as professional player within this great game of ours you have to be aware of this responsibility.

'The principle is that insulting language in the laws of football, however you look at it, is a red-card offence.'

It is the second time in a week Poll has endured the wrath of players and managers after he sent Chelsea's John Terry off for two bookable offences at Tottenham.

Terry claimed Poll changed the reason for the second yellow card, while Ashley Cole claimed the official had told Frank Lampard that Chelsea needed a lesson to improve their discipline - a claim fiercely denied by Poll.

Hackett said Poll was one of the country's leading officials and would continue to referee the top games.

He said: 'We are talking about one of the top referees in England who features in the top games as well as less high-profile matches in the Premiership and Carling Cup.

'I feel he will remain strong as a referee and players have to be aware they have to play by the rules of football.

'He has just completed 300 Premier League games and is highly regarded in Europe.

'I want my top referee, who is performing well, to be available and he will be on duty between Manchester City versus Newcastle tomorrow.'

Hackett said however Poll would not be a definite choice for the Manchester United against Chelsea match later this month.

He added: 'I and my team make that decision on the Monday before the game, based on a number of criteria including form. It is a big game but I cannot say at the moment whether or not Graham will be the referee.'