Referee and wife received ‘death threats’ after Old Firm match

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Referee and wife received ‘death threats’ after Old Firm match

Image caption,

Kevin Clancy disallowed a goal by Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos after ruling the Colombian fouled Celtic defender Alistair Johnston

A referee and his wife have received death threats after Saturday’s Old Firm match, the BBC understands.

The Scottish Football Association said Kevin Clancy was targeted after his contact details were published online following the Celtic v Rangers game.

Abusive messages sent to Mr Clancy were also directed at his children.

The SFA has referred the matter to Police Scotland, but a force spokesman said it had yet to receive the correspondence.

During the Scottish Premiership match, which Celtic won 3-2, the referee disallowed a first half goal by Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos.

A spokesperson for the Ibrox club said: “Rangers condemns in the strongest terms any abuse of match officials.

“We are all passionate about our game, but targeted, personal abuse of referees cannot be tolerated.”

The statement went on to say that Rangers were “astonished” by the decision to chalk off Morelos’ goal.

Former top flight referee Steve Conroy said the abuse directed at Mr Clancy was “absolutely appalling”.

He told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “It is disgusting that anybody personally and anybody’s family can be targeted over the course of a game of football.

Image caption,

Steve Conroy retired as a top flight referee in 2012

Mr Conroy said the abuse of match officials was not new but added the problem had intensified since he retired due to social media.

He also said anyone convicted of sending death threats should be banned from attending football grounds for life.

On Monday the SFA confirmed Clancy had received a series of “unacceptable” messages via email and phone.

Chief executive Ian Maxwell said some of the contact was “potentially criminal in nature”.

The SFA said a “significant volume of threatening and abusive emails” had been referred to Police Scotland, but the force said it had not received the complaint.

As a result, officers have yet to launch a formal investigation.

Image caption,

The SFA is based at Hampden in Glasgow

The SFA confirmed the association’s security and integrity manager had been liaising with Mr Clancy and the force following the messages over the Easter weekend.

Mr Maxwell said: “The nature of the messages goes way beyond criticism of performance and perceived decision-making – some are potentially criminal in nature and include threats and abuse towards Kevin and his family.

“We have referred the correspondence to the police and condemn this behaviour in the strongest possible terms, as well as the posting of a referee’s personal details online with the sole purpose of causing distress.

“Football is our national game. It improves and saves lives. Without referees, there is no game, and while decisions will always be debated with or without the use of VAR, we cannot allow a situation to develop where a referee’s privacy and safety, and those of his family, are compromised.”

He added everyone had a responsibility to “protect our game and those essential to it”.

Meanwhile, the SFA also confirmed the referee operations team had responded to Rangers’ request for an explanation for the decision to rule out Morelos’ goal, which they believe should have stood.

Rangers later said it had been told by the SFA that the goal by the Colombian striker was rightly disallowed.

The statement continued: “The club is astonished by this, especially given most observers, including former referees and former players, could see no issue with the goal standing.”

Rangers also highlighted a case in England where Brighton and Hove Albion received an apology for not being awarded a penalty in a match against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

The spokesperson said: “While an apology does not alter the outcome of a match, such responsibility and openness would be welcome in Scotland.”

In February a former top Scottish referee warned match officials were being subjected to an unacceptable level of verbal and physical abuse.

Kenny Clark spoke out after hundreds of grassroots referees in England told the BBC they fear for their safety when refereeing.

Some respondents described being punched, headbutted and spat at.

The Referees’ Association in England has even warned an official will one day “lose his or her life”.

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