Former Premier League referee Keith Hackett has accused Liverpool star Mohamed Salah of diving to win a penalty during the Reds’ win over Newcastle on Boxing Day.
He says people are forgetting football is a contact sport and has blasted the slipping standards of current officials.
Liverpool went six points clear at the top of the Premier League table with a thumping 4-0 victory at Anfield, as title rivals Manchester City lost to Leicester.
But there was controversy against the Magpies when Salah went down in the box under a challenge from Paul Dummett.
The Magpies defender tugged on Salah’s arm as he ran past him in the penalty area, with the Egyptian going to ground and the referee pointing to the spot.
Salah converted to score the Reds’ second goal, but some outraged fans were calling for the Liverpool star to be hit with a retrospective ban for simulation after the incident.
‘PATHETIC’ – Fans call for Mo Salah to be BANNED after ‘dive’ against Newcastle
On Thursday morning, Sports Breakfast hosts Alan Brazil and Dean Saunders both agreed that there was enough contact to correctly award a penalty.
But former man in black Hackett disagreed, and said people – and some referees, it appears – are forgetting that football is a contact sport.
He told talkSPORT: “No, it wasn’t a penalty for me.
“What really concerns me is the inconsistency that we see from referees on incidents inside the penalty area.
“We see defenders grabbing, hauling, tugging and grappling and we see that go unpunished week-in, week-out.
“We’re talking about a contract sport and there’s no way I’m going to buy it.
“It’s easy to give a penalty kick at Anfield and yes there is contact, but if I was in the middle I would want to be 100 per cent certain that I’m giving the home team a penalty kick that is worthy of one, and it would have to be a little bit more than what I saw yesterday.
“I can remember Sam Allardyce talking to me and saying, ‘If there’s contact my player is going to be instructed to go down’, and I think that’s the nature of the game now.
“You two [former strikers Alan and Dean] would have continued to play and head for the ball, but the modern game is different – if there’s a touch, they’re going to ground.
“There’s a huge debate around it, about if it’s worthy of a penalty kick, but it’s a contact sport.
“When we get a penalty kick like this we all question the referee’s decision because it’s soft. Well it’s either a penalty or it’s not and for me it’s not enough, it’s really not enough.”