Bennett 'stands by' Alonso decision

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The referees' chief Keith Hackett has insisted that Steve Bennett is happy with his decision to send off the Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso for two yellow cards, despite replays suggesting he could not have seen the player's second offence.

Bennett was following the action in front of him at Highbury when, behind him, Alonso appeared to slip and fall into Arsenal's Mathieu Flamini. Hackett revealed Bennett felt his decision was the right one and said the official may have relied on the judgement of his assistants in issuing the second yellow card.

Hackett said: "Steve feels he made the right decision. Ultimately the view is the referees make the decision on the day, and that's where the judgement sits at the moment.

"What the public have to understand is that two match officials are supporting him. Some referees operate a system where they say to their assistants: 'If you see an offence and believe it's worthy of a caution, attract my attention by use of the buzzer flag. If you believe that offence is worthy of a caution, or something more, then point to your pocket.'

"I don't know whether the assistant has done that [in Alonso's case] but that could have happened. That is how there is a lot of below-the-line communication between match officials to ensure they cover the game."

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez called Bennett's decision "a big mistake" and described it as the turning point in his side's 2-1 defeat. Liverpool have no right to appeal against the booking, and Fifa guidelines state that referees are only able to upgrade or downgrade punishments issued by them in the case of mistaken identity. As a result, Alonso must serve a one-match ban against Fulham tonight.

Hackett added: "The process [for referees to change their mind] is not there at this moment in time.

"The FA are the keyholders in terms of what can and cannot be used in evidence. At this moment, other than mistaken identity or an incident off the ball, there is no process where that power cuts in."

Earlier in the season the FA sanctioned Bennett's decision to downgrade a red card issued to Jermaine Jenas, then of Newcastle, to a yellow after the official reviewed video evidence.

However, Fifa ordered the FA not to do this again, and officials at Soho Square were therefore unable to accept Rob Styles' request to upgrade his booking of Chelsea's Michael Essien for a foul on Bolton's Tal Ben Haim to a red in October.

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