Tottenham Hotspur head coach Jose Mourinho has expressed his sympathy for referee Mike Dean after receiving death threats and said he spoke with on-loan defender Ryan Sessegnon following his own experience of online abuse.
Dean will not take charge of a Premier League game this weekend after his request for time off was granted following revelations the 52-year and his family had been targeted on social media.
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He came under fire after two separate red card incidents, dismissing West Ham United midfielder Tomas Soucek for elbowing Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic four days after sending off Jan Bednarek for a tackle on Anthony Martial in Southampton’s 9-0 defeat at Manchester United.
Dean reviewed each decision on a pitchside monitor during a VAR review but both were later overturned on appeal by the respective clubs. Dean is the latest individual to suffer online abuse this season including United duo Marcus Rashford and Axel Tuenzebe and Mourinho said he reached out to Sessegnon when he received abusive Instagram messages just a month after joining Hoffenheim in November.
“We speak with the players if the situation arises,” he said. “To be honest, the last one I had a little talk about it was with Ryan Sessegnon.
“He is in Germany, he is not even here, but he is our player and he is a kid that we have to try to protect. And of course I feel very sorry for Mike Dean. I feel very sorry with Tuanzebe, and with every Mike Dean and every Tuanzebe of this world.
“This week was for them, the week before was for others. And if the situations goes in the same direction, next week will be to others. I think something has to be done, because one thing is professional life and what we do in our professional lives, and the success we have, the mistakes we make, the frustrations we have.
“Another thing is to go to the private life and go to the social life. And then, of course, something has to be done.”
Spurs face Everton at Goodison Park in Wednesday’s FA Cup fifth round clash with Dele Alli potentially in line for a return to action after the club blocked his proposed loan move to Paris Saint-Germain last month.
The 24-year-old has started just six games this season and has been struggling with a tendon injury of late but Mourinho said: “He went through a process of not training and trained with the sports science people and then jumped to team work which he did yesterday for the first time.
“Nothing changed, what maybe changed is the speculation around him because in this moment everybody knows that he’s a Tottenham player and he doesn’t go to any place. So probably the end of the speculation and will be end the questions.
“In a normal situation he wouldn’t even be considered for tomorrow but with the injuries we have with so many matches we have, maybe we have to accelerate his process and maybe we can.
“But of course I want him to be fully on board and to agree and depends on his feelings. But if he can be on the bench tomorrow and to come for 10 or 15 minutes to help the team that would be good for us.”