Europe's football scene is facing another grim episode of hostility, with the most recent case revolving around an altercation involving Anthony Taylor, the referee for the Europa League final, and irate Roma fans at the Budapest International Airport.
Footage of the aggressive encounter gained traction on social media late Thursday. The videos show Taylor and his family striving to make their way through a belligerent crowd within the airport. It remains unclear if they had travelled alone; however, amid the tumult, security personnel were eventually able to guide them to a secure room.
In one of the clips, a chair can be seen hurled in Taylor's direction as he was led to a room by the security staff. A quick-thinking officer was able to deflect the chair mid-flight, averting a potential injury. A water bottle also narrowly missed a woman accompanying the English referee.
The agitated crowd was heard uttering expletives at Taylor, who officiated the Europa League final between Roma and Sevilla that took place the previous night. The defeat left a bitter taste for Roma supporters who believe the match was marred by questionable decisions from Taylor.
Sevilla clinched the title with a 4-1 victory in penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra time. Much of the Roma fans' ire was incited by a handball by Sevilla's Fernando. Although VAR confirmed that the ball struck his arm following a cross from Nemaja Matic, officials ruled that his arms were in a natural position, thus dismissing Roma's appeals for a penalty.
After Paulo Dybala brought the Italians ahead in the 35th minute, an own goal from Gianluca Mancini in the second half secured an equalizer for Sevilla. This propelled the match into extra time and, subsequently, a penalty shootout. Taylor was again in the spotlight when he allowed Gonzalo Montiel another chance to convert a penalty, after flagging the keeper for encroachment, which ultimately led to Sevilla's title-winning penalty.
Roma's manager, Jose Mourinho, was incensed during the majority of the match and even got booked. Post-match, he confronted Taylor, labeling him a "f***ing disgrace." He later grumbled about the 13 yellow cards dealt by Taylor during the game, insinuating that Taylor seemed to be favoring Sevilla.
Mourinho called the result "unjust," citing several contentious issues including the handball and the penalties. "We're dead tired physically, mentally, and emotionally because we believe it was an unfair defeat with many debatable incidents," he lamented.
Unsurprisingly, the resentment from Roma was palpable, though the attacks were utterly shocking.
The Professional Game Match Officials (PGMOL) denounced the assault on Taylor and his family, asserting their support for them and expressing disgust at the unjustified and abhorrent harassment.
Opinions are split on social media, with many expressing dismay at the aggression against Taylor and his family, while others echoing Mourinho's criticism of UEFA's officiating. Calls are being made to address the root cause of such controversies, questioning the efficiency of VAR and other technologies that should aid in making consistent calls.
As of now, it's uncertain whether any of the individuals involved in the airport altercation have been identified or are under investigation.