Dundee United player refuses to back media's Celtic narrative over Hatate incident

By David Walton

March 16, 2022

Dundee United attacker Kieran Freeman has refused to go in on Celtic midfielder Reo Hatate after a media pile-on over the last couple of days.

Hatate was involved in a flashpoint with the United star when he arrived later for a challenge in the first half of Monday night’s 3-0 win at Tannadice. Celtic may have progressed to the Scottish Cup semi-finals with the win, but we’ve had to listen to countless pundits talk about how fortunate Hatate was to stay on the pitch.

James McFadden stated it on Sportscene. Craig Levein believes he “got away with murder”. Chris Sutton and Michael Stewart also claimed Hatate was lucky to stay on the pitch [Daily Record].

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

But Freeman has refused to join the pile-on. Instead he just stated that the challenge “is what it is” and believes it didn’t affect the game in any meaningful way.

As quoted by the Herald, the Utd man said: “I knew it was coming. I got the ball and tried to play it inside. These things happen. I’ll leave that to others to discuss. I was in the heat of the game and didn’t see too much. How much did he catch me? I’m not sure. I felt contact and it’s up to the referee to do whatever he thinks.

“I was down on the ground. I didn’t know what was happening around me and you can’t change that now. He gave the yellow and I don’t think it impacted on the game too much in the end. I had plenty of time to see that coming and it is what it is.”

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Kieran Freeman takes the classy route; Reo Hatate criticism is injust

Good to see this from Freeman. Whilst he doesn’t particularly absolve the Celtic player of blame for the incident, he could’ve been a lot more harmful with his remarks.

Instead, he appears like a player who just wants to move on. One who doesn’t want to get involved in tit-for-tat or give the media a headline. Credit to him, many others wouldn’t have done the same.

From a Celtic perspective of course, the criticism is unjust regardless. Hatate tries to pull out and doesn’t go in with a straight leg. You can’t say there’s excessive force either. Giving a red card for a challenge like that opens up a can of worms.

Photo by Kaz Photography/Getty Images

This all probably likely stems from the fact that Bevis Mugabi was ridiculously sent off for Motherwell on Sunday for something extremely similar. The lack of consistency when it comes to refereeing in Scotland simply doesn’t help.

But let’s not pretend it was something Celtic got away with. It merited nothing more than a yellow card and that’s what the decision received. It’s difficult to see where the debate even starts in truth.

Thankfully, Freeman has decided not to add fuel to the fire. You can’t help but feel that if this was the other way around, it would be brushed off as a nothing incident.

In other news, Video: The blatant Celtic penalty John Beaton somehow missed at Tannadice