ENGLISH referee Michael Oliver and his Gosport-born wife, Lucy Oliver, have been backed by Italian football fans following a tirade of Twitter abuse from Juventus supporters.
DURING the Champions League quarter-final second-leg clash between Real Madrid and Juventus on Tuesday, English referee Michael Oliver awarded Madrid an inury-time penalty and sent off Juventus keeper, Gianluigi Buffon, for his protestations at the decision.
Cristiano Ronaldo slotted home the spot-kick to send the home side into the last four.
Buffon described the referee as having ‘a bag of rubbish for a heart’ and Italian football fans took to Twitter to vent their frustrations about the incident, with some going as far as abusing his wife Lucy, who is from Gosport.
One Juventus fan tweeted directly to Lucy: ‘The theft of the century titled many European newspapers not only Italian. Are you not ashamed of your husband?’
Many of the other comments contained abusive and offensive language, but other Italian football fans started up an #ItaliaLovesMichaelOliver hashtag in support of the couple, with one telling them: ‘The clean side of Italy loves you’.
The hashtag became a top trend on Twitter and has now been used more than 6,000 times since the game.
It started with a Tweet that read: ‘Let’s let Lucy know that we’re not all hunchbacks, away with the hashtag.’
Another Italian football fan described Oliver, a Premier League official, from Ashington as a great referee who has done his job ‘impeccably’.
Lucy is a qualified Women’s Super League referee.