Chelsea’s Jon Obi Mikel has accused Oliver Giroud of deliberately elbowing him during France’s 2-0 win over Nigeria yesterday.
The Arsenal striker did appear to throw his arm back as the two grappled in the box at a set-piece, but despite the referee seeing it, Giroud only received a warning.
Mikel was clearly unhappy about the referee’s decision, but also willing to give the Frenchman the benefit of the doubt.
“Yes I got an elbow and the referee saw it and he only gave him a warning, not even a yellow card, nothing,” he said. “It was bad. We know the game – if you see it, act on it.
“The ref saw it. He did catch me, I don’t know if it was too hard but the intention was definitely there. I don’t think he is a dirty player. Everyone wants to win for his country.
“He hasn’t done those sort of things before so maybe it was just one of those things in the heat of the moment.”
Nigerian complaints about the American referee continued after the game with manager Stephen Kehsi saying, “I am not happy with the officiating because Onazi, on two occasions, he had a very bad tackle and nothing was done by the referee.
“I think the referee was … was biased. This is the first time I will speak about the referee in my life as a coach but it wasn’t good.”
Blaise Matuidi was fortunate to escape with just a yellow card for a tackle which may have broken Ogenyi Onazi’s ankle, and Giroud can count himself somewhat fortunate also. A stricter official may well have sent him off and ended his tournament.
The Arsenal man may still find himself the subject of a FIFA investigation if they decide to use video evidence to review the incident.