Premier League referee Mike Dean has requested not to officiate a game this weekend after receiving abuse and death threats on social media.
The experienced official faced criticism for sending off West Ham United player Tomas Soucek over the weekend after appearing to accidentally elbow Fulham forward Aleksander Mitrovic, an incident which occurred just four days after Dean sent off Jan Bednarek in Southampton's 9-0 defeat to Manchester United.
Both decisions have since been overturned following an appeal.
Dean's family has also been the subject of abuse on social media, which has been reported to the police.
He is expected to referee Wednesday's FA cup fixture between Leicester City and Brighton & Hove Albion, where VAR will once again be in operation, where the two aforementioned instances helped Dean reach his red card decisions.
A Merseyside Police spokesperson said: "We can confirm officers are investigating allegations of malicious communications reported today, Monday 8 February.
"The reports relate to social media accounts and enquiries are ongoing. We monitor the internet, and if we identify any offences we will take action.
"Those who use the internet to target others, and who commit a criminal offence [eg hate crime/malicious communications], are not beyond the law - and can + will be investigated and brought to justice."
PGMOL managing director, Mike Riley added: "Threats and abuse of this nature are totally unacceptable and we fully support Mike's decision to report these messages his family received to the police.
"Nobody should be victim of abhorrent messages like this. Online abuse is unacceptable in any walk of life and more needs to be done to tackle the problem."
Author: Jake Wilkin