Premier League • England

Rio Ferdinand demands apology from Arsenal fans over treatment of star; ridicules Bayern penalty call

Ben White, William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes of Arsenal during the Champions League quarter-final tie with Bayern Munich and, inset, Rio Ferdinand

Ben White, William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes of Arsenal and, inset, Rio Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand is unhappy with the way Arsenal fans have treated one of their own players and has demanded they offer an immediate apology, while also feeling Gabriel Magalhaes was extremely fortunate not to concede a penalty in their 2-2 Champions League quarter-final draw against Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

The Gunners are enjoying an excellent season and, as we enter the business stage of the campaign, have a chance of winning both the Champions League for the first time in their existence and the Premier League, for the first time since 2004. However, after a thrilling 2-2 draw against the reigning German champions at Emirates Stadium, Arsenal are probably now narrow second favourites to progress through to the semi-final stage.

Arsenal took a 12th-minute lead through Bukayo Saka, but found themselves 2-1 down after goals from Gunners old boy Serge Gnabry and the inevitable Harry Kane from the penalty spot, before a moment of controversey could have gifted Bayern a third.

That came when David Raya played a goal-kick to Gabriel Magalhaes, with the Brazilian crazily picking up the ball before re-spotting it inside the six-yard box to take a goal-kick of his own.

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However, Bayern Munich fans were up in arms, protesting that Gabriel’s handling of the ball should have resulted in a spot-kick.

After the game, a furious Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel raged: “I think the referee did not have the courage today to give a deserved penalty in a bit of a crazy and awkward situation.

“But he admitted on the pitch that he saw the situation and that a quarter-final is not enough for him to give a penalty for his mistake.”

Rio Ferdinand critical of double Arsenal v Bayern penalty call

Tuchel continued: “He [the referee] admitted he knew about the mistake the player made and that is a bit frustrating. It was from the goalkeeper, he was whistling and the keeper passed to the central defender…I am not sure which one it was but he touched the ball with his hand because he thought it is not in the game, but it was in the game.

“The referee admitted it was in game and it was a handball. It was not worth looking at the mistake which is very frustrating for our players and leaves us angry.”

Scoffing at the decision, Ferdinand told TNT Sports: “It’s a pen. Oh my gosh how can that not be given? I was so adamant that Saka’s one was, I am even more for this. It’s unbelievable. How can he blow the whistle like that and not give that. Martin, try and defend that please.”

That crucial moment came with Bayern 2-1 up and a 3-1 advantage at that stage could have been critical.

As it was, Arsenal fought back to draw level through Leandro Trossard, though were denied a strong penalty claim themselves from Saka went down under Manuel Neuer’s challenge.

Ferdinand also felt that was a clear spot-kick too.

“I can’t believe that’s not been given! That is a penalty, I’m in disbelief,” he stated.

However, Arsenal legend Ian Wright was less convinced. The former striker took to X, formely Twitter, to say: “Not a pen for me.”

Trossard said of the incident: “On the pitch it looked like a penalty to me. I haven’t seen the replay but for me, it looked like there was clear contact but I will have to wait until after to see it again.”

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Pundit demands Arsenal fans apologise over star

TNT Sports pundit Ferdinand, meanwhile, feels Arsenal fans owe Kai Havertz a major apology over their goading of the club’s decision to sign him over the summer.

Eyebrows were raised when Arsenal parted with a £65m fee to sign Germany international Havertz from Chelsea over the summer, especially in light of his struggles at Stamford Bridge, where he only managed to score 32 goals and add 12 assists in 139 matches for the Blues.

However, Havertz has knuckled down this season and proved himself worthy of the fee spent on him with some solid displays for the Gunners.

And with the 24-year-old now having reached the 10 goal and five assist milestone for the season, Ferdinand thinks the Gunners fans owe both Havertz and boss Mikel Arteta a firm apology for writing him off before he had even kicked a ball.

“There was huge pressure (when he first arrived),” Ferdinand said. “When we talk about the character of players and being the make-up of any top player, he has got that.

“He was questioned by a lot of Arsenal fans. When I walk around here and anywhere at Arsenal, I always say to the Arsenal fans, have you apologised to Havertz? They need to say sorry. They need to apologise.”

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown conceded he too was one of those who weren’t sure of his signing, admitting: “At the start of the season we were not sure. I sat on the fence a little bit, but I am glad I did because look at the composure he now has.

“Look at the quality and the movement, he just ghosts into that central position and he’s done that quite a few times. His goal involvements recently are crazy. They gave him time, the manager believed in him and he’s paying him back now in bucket loads.”

Ferdinand added: “That is where Arteta has to get a lot of credit. Some managers would have panicked and said, ‘I’ll take you out now’, but he persevered with him because he believed in the quality, and this kid has paid him back.”