The Scottish Football Association (SFA) has expressed its outrage after referee Kevin Clancy and his family were the target of “threats and abuse” following his officiating at Saturday’s Old Firm match. It was reported that Clancy’s personal contact details were published online over the weekend, leading to a series of “unacceptable” messages being sent to him via email and phone. SFA Chief Executive Ian Maxwell said some of the contact was “potentially criminal in nature” and the association has referred a “significant volume of threatening and abusive emails” to Police Scotland. However, the force has yet to receive the correspondence and so no formal investigation has been launched.
The incident occurred after Celtic defeated Rangers 3-2 in the Scottish Premiership match. The SFA’s security and integrity manager has been liaising with Clancy and the police since the messages were sent over the Easter weekend. Maxwell condemned the behaviour in the strongest possible terms, saying, “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.”
Maxwell also highlighted the importance of protecting referees, saying, “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 that everyone had a responsibility to “protect our game and those essential to it”. The SFA also confirmed that it had responded to Rangers’ request for an explanation for the decision to rule out a goal they believe should have stood by Colombian striker Alfredo Morelos.
The SFA’s response to this incident highlights the need for respect towards referees and those involved in football. It is unacceptable that Clancy and his family were subject to threats and abuse and it is important that such behaviour is not tolerated in any way. The SFA has taken appropriate action by referring the matter to Police Scotland and it is hoped that those responsible will be held accountable for their actions.