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Manchester City star Sergio Aguero widely criticized for putting his hand on the shoulder of a female official

Ebru Koksal is the Chair of "Women in Football." She's a former general secretary of Galatasaray, who was appointed the first general secretary of the Turkish FA in 2011 and is very open about the discrimination she faced first hand.

Posted: Oct 20, 2020 5:10 AM
Updated: Oct 20, 2020 5:10 AM

Sergio Aguero has been subject to widespread criticism after he placed his hand on the shoulder of a lineswoman ​as he challenged her ruling on Saturday.

The Manchester City forward was protesting a decision made by Sian Massey-Ellis, who had signaled for a throw-in to Arsenal.

Aguero, who was visibly frustrated, confronted the official before grabbing her on the upper shoulder, close to her neck. Massey-Ellis shrugged Aguero off before he jogged away and the game continued.

There were no formal consequences for Aguero during the match, but ​his behavior was caught by television cameras and widely shared on social media.

FIFA's Chief Women's Football Officer Sarai Bareman says the incident should not be brushed under the carpet and praised Massey-Ellis for her professionalism.

"It's very clear that the gesture was designed to intimidate and that behavior is unacceptable," Bareman told CNN Sport's Amanda Davies.

"At the very least, there should be an acknowledgment of it. Whether there's punishment or sanctions, that's not for me."

UK politician, Labour MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, was also among those to question ​his actions.

"Who does Aguero think he is? Completely unacceptable," she wrote on Twitter.

Fellow Labour MP and Shadow Minister for Sport, Alison McGovern, called the incident "horrendous."

"Get your hands off her neck," she tweeted.

Rules state that the referee can send a player off if they confront a match official in an "aggressive" manner.

READ: Goals galore as European soccer experiences yet another wild weekend of action

​Man City manager Pep Guardiola defended his forward when questioned about the incident after the match.

"Come on guys. Sergio is the nicest person I ever met in my life. Look for problems in other situations, not in this one," he said.

However, former Manchester United and England player Gary Neville told CNN Sport that Aguero should apologize for the incident.

"No football player should ever put their hands on an official, whether they be female or male," he said.

"Aguero did make a mistake on Saturday. I think it's obviously worse by the fact that he put his hands on a female official, which he should never have done.

"I think [he] would be best served by apologizing and getting it over and done with rather than trying to defend the fact that it probably was an instinctive reaction."

Neither Aguero nor Massey-Ellis have made a public statement following the match. ​

CNN has reached out to Aguero's representatives, Manchester City and the Football Association, the governing body of English football, ​but none immediately respond​ed to CNN's requests for comment.

CNN also contacted the Premier League, which represents Massey-Ellis, but they declined to comment on the record.

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