Michael Oliver has admitted that it was ‘a weird few days’ after he found himself in the spotlight following his decision to award Real Madrid a penalty in stoppage time in the second leg of their Champions League, quarter-final tie against Juventus earlier this month.
Oliver pointed to the spot as he felt Medhi Benatia fouled Lucas Vazquez in the area.
The English referee subsequently sent off Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who angrily protested against the decision.
Michael Oliver was the subject of much scrutiny after Real Madrid’s game against Juventus
Oliver sent off Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon following his protestations
Cristiano Ronaldo scored in the eighth minute of stoppage time to send Real through, and, although there was much focus on him in the aftermath of the incident, Oliver revealed that he received lots of support for his decision.
Oliver told the FA’s official website: ‘It was a weird few days. But it was nice that so many people, both within the game and outside the game, were keen to offer their support. It was quite humbling actually and it meant a lot.
‘I had people coming up to me in the street and people from inside the game were sending me messages of support. It’s a nice thing to know I’ve got that backing.’
Oliver found himself surrounded by Juventus players following the controversial decision
The 33-year-old gave a penalty for Medhi Benatia’s challenge on Lucas Vazquez
The 33-year-old’s decision certainly sparked much debate especially as it occurred at a crucial moment in the tie, with the Italian side having remarkably fought back to be level at 3-3 having trailed 3-0 from the first leg.
Oliver was heavily criticised by Buffon after the game and many Juventus supporters also expressed their anger on social media.
Soon Oliver will find himself under significant scrutiny again as he has been selected to take charge of the FA Cup final between Manchester United and Chelsea.
MOST CARDS SHOWN IN PREMIER LEAGUE THIS SEASON
Michael Oliver – 27 matches, 5 red cards, 95 yellow cards
Martin Atkinson – 26 matches, 5 red cards, 94 yellow cards
Jonathan Moss – 25 matches, 2 red cards, 92 yellow cards
Andre Marriner – 24 matches, 4 red cards, 63 yellow cards
Anthony Taylor – 24 matches, 1 red card, 79 yellow cards
As referees are only permitted to officiate the showcase event once, Oliver is eager to relish the experience of the game, which will take place on May 19th.
‘I was very proud and humbled to receive the call,’ he said.
‘When you start out, taking charge of the Cup Final is not something you even think about. As your career progresses it becomes a realistic target but it’s not a call you ever expect to take.
‘This opportunity only comes around once in a referee’s career.
‘I’ve ref’d at Wembley a good few times now and it never gets old.
‘You still pinch yourself when you’re walking round the stadium the day before the game. You know where everything is, but you still go to acclimatise – and because it’s Wembley.
Oliver will take charge of the FA Cup final between Manchester United and Chelsea
‘The first time I did it there were only 40,000 people there. Each game I’ve done since the crowd has got a bit bigger and this will be the biggest game of the lot.’
Oliver has revealed that he will seek advice from fellow referees ahead of the game.
‘We’re quite a close group,’ he explained, ‘so I’ll speak to the referees who have done it in the past to get a sense of the whole occasion and how they dealt with it.
‘There are so many things that happen before the game on Cup Final day that don’t normally happen.’
‘I imagine I’ll be a bit more nervous before the game than I would be for any other game, like any player I suppose.
‘But unlike players, referees only get one opportunity to get to a Cup Final.’
Oliver previously refereed the 2016 League Cup final between Manchester City and Liverpool and he also oversaw the 2014 Community Shield when City took on Arsenal.