Referee Massimo Busacca is no stranger to controversy

The Swiss referee who sent off Robin van Persie has caused a stir on a number of other occasions

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
massimo busacca

massimo busacca

The referee who sent off Robin van Persie in Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat by Barcelona is no stranger to controversy.

Massimo Busacca, who was heavily criticised for showing Van Persie a second yellow card for firing an effort at goal after having been given offside, has caused a stir on a number of other occasions.

In 2009 he was banned for three matches by the Swiss FA for raising his middle finger at supporters during a clash between FC Baden and Young Boys when fans of the lower league club from Baden stormed onto the pitch after their side took an unlikely lead.

Busacca, 42, had asked for a safety announcement to be replayed over the stadium’s public address system, sparking a barrage of abuse from the same fans.

The Swiss ref later apologised for his reaction, saying: “I let myself be provoked by verbal abuse from supporters. Unfortunately, I lost my cool with an unsporting gesture. I was wrong and I will pay the price.”

But just days later he faced bizarre claims that he urinated on the pitch in the middle of a match between Al-Gharafa and Al-Khor in Qatar.

And at last year’s World Cup Busacca sparked a furious outburst from South Africa boss Carlos Alberto Parreira after he sent off Itumeleng Khune in the host nation’s 3-0 defeat by Uruguay in the group stages.

Parreira fumed: “Myself and everyone else said it was the worst referring performance in this competition so far. He was very unfair against our team from the very beginning, the way he acted against our team. I hope we don’t see his face again in this tournament because he doesn’t deserve to be here.”

Busacca has also previously drawn the wrath of Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson for failing to award a penalty when Cristiano Ronaldo was hauled down by Rafael Márquez in the English side’s Champions League semi-final clash with Barcelona at Camp Nou in 2008.

The United manager claimed “the world and his wife” would have given the visitors a second spot-kick during the goalless draw.

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