PREMIER League referee Mark Halsey was the victim of sick Twitter taunts after officiating at the Liverpool versus Manchester United clash on Sunday.
The tweets referred to Mr Halsey’s battle against throat cancer.
A tweet posted from an account named @johnwareing1 read: “I hope Mark Halsey gets cancer again and dies” while another from @lfcjohn259 read: “Mark Halsey should've died of cancer.”
Both tweets were met with outrage from other users of the social media site.
The post from @lfcjohn259 was deleted and the @johnwareing1 account was removed completely.
Some were reportedly aimed at Mr Halsey’s family.
The abuse of the popular referee, who lives in Little Lever , has been condemned as “beneath contempt” by the match officials' union Prospect — and a number rushed to his support.
Alan Leighton, the national secretary of Prospect, which represents referees, said in a statement: “Prospect wholeheartedly condemns the unacceptable abuse aimed at Mark Halsey on Twitter.
“The comments made by a very small minority will be seen as beneath contempt by all decent people.
“The main concern now is for Mark and his family.”
Mr Halsey was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2009 but returned to refereeing in March, 2010.
On Sunday he controversially sent off Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey for a challenge on United defender Jonny Evans and awarded a late penalty to United which Robin van Persie converted to seal a 2-1 win.
Mr Halsey, aged 51, is due to officiate at the Capital One Cup third-round meeting between Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday evening as originally planned.
Well-known personalities condemned the perpetrators.
Phil Neville tweeted: “After hearing what's been written about ref Mark Halsey and his family after game I sometimes wonder if Twitter is really worth it!”
The Hertfordshire-born official, who lives with wife Michelle and daughter Lucy Mia, received messages of support from football stars such as John Terry, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney during his battle against cancer.
Halsey was appointed to the Football League list of referees in the mid-1990s and was promoted to the Premier League list in 1999.
Mr Halsey’s employer, Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO), issued a statement deploring the actions of the abusive Twitter users.
It said: “PGMO abhors any abuse of match officials whether that is in stadia or outside.”