Europe’s leading referees’ official has suggested that referees could go on strike after the retirement of Anders Frisk following death threats to him and his family.
“We cannot just do nothing,” sad Volker Roth, chairman of UEFA’s referees’ committee.
“There will be a demonstration of solidarity among the referees as you have never seen before.
“I am really no friend of strikes but we must consider measures,” he told Bild newspaper in Germany.
Frisk announced on Friday he was retiring, saying “these last few weeks have been the worst of my life”.
His decision followed Barcelona’s 2-1 first leg victory over Chelsea in the Champions League last month, after which he was acused by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinhoof fraternising with Barca coach Frank Rijkaard by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.
Chelsea striker Didier Drogba was sent off by Frisk early in the second half and as a result received death threats from irate Chelsea fans.
“Of course, we make mistakes like every player and coach. But that shouldn’t lead to referees being sworn at or even threatened,” Roth said in a statement on the German Football Association’s website.
“But if things escalate and millimetre decisions, which can only be decided after three slow motion replays, trigger exaggerated reactions, then the possibility exists that even the best referees in the world will abruptly give up.”
At the weekend Roth told a Swedish newspaper that “people like Mourinho are the enemy of football”.
Meanwhile, UEFA is to try to persuade Frisk to return to the game.
“It’s obvious that our first reaction was of solidarity and compassion,” William Gaillard, spokesman for European soccer’s ruling body, said on Monday.
“At the same time (refereeing officials) at UEFA are in contact with Anders and will try to convince him to go back to refereeing because we need people of his calibre and quality.
“Players, coaches and managers have a responsibility to exert restraint. The game is watched by millions of people, we can’t expect everyone to be as mentally balanced as they should be,” Gaillard told Sky Sports news.
“One should be very careful about making statements that could be potentially inflammatory.”
Frisk was also hit on the head by an object thrown from the crowd at Roma’s Olympic stadium in September during a Champions League match against Dynamo Kyiv.
“I think people should keep in mind that these are not highly paid people, they’re not like the players or the coaches,” said Gaillard.
“These are people who are basically amateurs, who also have another job on the side and it is quite unfair to put them in the situation where they have to go into hiding.”