Referee consoles Kudus rather than show yellow card for taking shirt off in Atsu tribute

Dutch referee Pol van Boekel decided to condole with Mohammed Kudus, rather than show him a yellow card, after the Ajax star took off his shirt in paying tribute to Christian Atsu.

Referee consoles Kudus rather than show yellow card for taking shirt off in Atsu tribute

Kudus scored an 84th-minute free-kick to round off a comfortable 4-0 victory for Ajax against Sparta Rotterdam on Sunday.

The 22-year-old celebrated by taking off his shirt and showing off the message “RIP Atsu” as a tribute to his former international teammate who tragically passed away.

The referee was supposed to book him for taking off his shirt, but Pol van Boekel gave Kudus a pass, as he understood that there was more to his gesture than football.

Kudus expressed his respect for the match official after the game, saying his gesture was for the departed Atsu.

“This is bigger than the rules of football, it's about life and death. The referee said it was not allowed, but he understood the situation. I am grateful to him for that and I respect him very much,” Kudus told ESPN.

“This one was for Christian. Everyone knows what happened in Turkey. I chose this because he is dear to me. It's naturally for all those families that are affected.

“I learned a lot from watching him, he also regularly gave me advice. Everything I gave today was for him. If I hadn't have scored, I would have shown the shirt after the game.”

Atsu was confirmed dead last Saturday after his lifeless body was pulled out of the rubble in the wake of the earthquake in Turkey.

This followed days of intense search following the devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria two weeks ago.

Tributes have poured in from far and near, with many expressing their condolences to the footballer’s family and loved ones.

A minute of applause was observed at all Premier League venues over the weekend, with his former clubs Newcastle United, Chelsea, Everton and Bournemouth leading the charge.

Meanwhile, Atsu’s mortal remains arrived in Ghana on Sunday evening, with a short ceremony held at the VIP lounge of the Kotoka International Airport to welcome the body.


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