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Furious Di Canio asked referee to send him off

ESPN staff
September 14, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Paolo di Canio was unhappy with referee Martin Atkinson's performance © Getty Images
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Sunderland manager Paolo di Canio was left fuming at referee Martin Atkinson's failure to allow his side an equaliser in their disappointing 3-1 home defeat to Arsenal, revealing he asked the official to "send him off".

Olivier Giroud had put Arsenal ahead early in the first half but Craig Gardner levelled the scores from the penalty spot after the break. Arsenal edged in front through Aaron Ramsey before Di Canio was left astounded by what he described as a "big mistake" from Atkinson.

The controversial incident occurred in the 70th minute when Sunderland had the ball in the net through Jozy Altidore. However, Atkinson had already blown for a foul in Sunderland's favour when playing advantage would have seen the scores levelled.

Shortly after, Di Canio was subjected to further misery when he watched Aaron Ramsey score his second and Arsenal's third to put the tie beyond reach.

"This is a big mistake," Di Canio told BBC Sport. "This is obvious, it is clear. It is not a Paolo di Canio opinion.

"The referee has to wait and see how the action finishes. He can come back and give the decision, maybe give the free-kick.

"But when there is a body to body with Jozy Altidore and [Bacary] Sagna at the edge of the box, he has to wait to the finish of this moment and not stop the game straight away. That was a clear, big, big, big mistake.

"It can happen to anyone, to make a mistake or a very bad decision and that probably cost [us] a chance or two to get some points today. That can happen."

In the closing stages at the Stadium of Light, Di Canio was ordered to the stands by Atkinson as the Italian's frustrations hit boiling point.

"I said to him [Atkinson] if you want to complete a perfect job, you can send me off," Di Canio said. "He took it serious and sent me off.

"So next time I probably won't invite the referee to send me off."

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