Premier League referee and family receive online death threats

    Mike Dean talks to West Ham's Tomas Soucek after sending him off.

    (CNN)A leading English referee and his family have been subjected to online death threats following two erroneous decisions in successive games he took charge of.

    Mike Dean had received criticism for sending off West Ham's Tomas Soucek on Saturday and Southampton's Jan Bednarek on February 2, despite reviewing both incidents on the pitch-side monitor.
    Both red cards were subsequently overturned on appeal by the respective clubs.
      "It is inexcusable that Mike Dean and his family have received online abuse, including death threats, as a result of doing his job officiating at a Premier League match," said Premier League chief executive Richard Masters in a statement sent to CNN.
      "It is completely unacceptable that we are seeing abusive behaviour aimed at players, managers and match officials regularly on social media platforms.
      "Mike and his family have our full support in reporting this to the police. This once again highlights the need for greater proactive intervention from social media companies to stop online abuse and identify offenders."
      The 53-year-old Dean, arguably the Premier League's most high-profile referee, has reportedly notified the police of the abusive messages.
      "We can confirm officers are investigating allegations of malicious communications reported today, Monday 8 February," Merseyside Police told CNN in a statement. "The reports relate to social media accounts and enquiries are ongoing.
      "We monitor the internet, and if we identify any offenses we will take action. Those who use the internet to target others, and who commit a criminal offense such as hate crime or malicious communications in doing so, are not beyond the law -- and can and will be investigated and brought to justice."
      Dean will referee Leicester City's FA Cup fifth-round tie against Brighton on Wednesday, but he asked not be involved in any of Premier League's fixtures this weekend.