Players’ union chief Gordon Taylor believes a sense of proportion was lost in the chaotic closing moments of Manchester City’s last-gasp win at Bournemouth on Saturday.
Raheem Sterling netted City’s winner in the seventh minute of added time at the Vitality Stadium before being sent off for celebrating with fans who had reached the edge of the pitch.
City striker Sergio Aguero was later alleged to have assaulted a steward amid the pandemonium, but that claim was subsequently withdrawn.
Sterling had already been booked when referee Mike Dean deemed his celebrations — which saw him engulfed by bodies in a crowd of fans, players and stewards — excessive and therefore cautionable.
The laws of the game state a player must be booked for “climbing onto a perimeter fence and/or approaching the spectators in a manner which can cause safety and/or security issues.”
Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, said: “I think it is about keeping things in perspective.
“Even referees would say for a lad who has just scored the winner to celebrate — we know the strict letter of the law but it didn’t look as though he intentionally ran off the pitch. He was celebrating, and the same [standard] was not applied with [the] Bournemouth [goalscorer].
“You could say he should know that but you think, ‘Come on.’ It’s very unfortunate. It is not something you want to see.
“I think you have got to be prepared to show some leeway when it’s all about goalscoring and winning, keep things in proportion. From that point of view it could have been a lot more proportionate.”
Taylor was also bemused by the allegation against Aguero, which was not supported by TV footage, and thought the stewarding may have been heavy-handed.
Taylor said: “Again, to have to talk about being assaulted you think, ‘Hang on a minute.’
“It’s difficult when you haven’t been there and seen the whole thing live, but it does seem as though if we are not careful things are getting out of proportion.
“It is about players’ security and supporters’ security but it is also about proportionate controls and not something that takes away from a good game.”
Sterling’s goal handed City a 2-1 victory in the Premier League encounter.
Bournemouth have not commented beyond a statement issued on Saturday night making clear the assault allegation had been withdrawn.