Mark Halsey says a leading referee could commit suicide if not given help
Last Updated: 16/09/13 11:14am
Mark Halsey: Says pressure on referees is increasing all the time
Mark Halsey is predicting that a leading referee could commit suicide if they are not offered more help to deal with the stresses and pressures of being continually in the spotlight.
Halsey, a retired referee, has made the comments in his autobiography, saying match officials are facing increasing public scrutiny as a result of greater media focus as well as from social media outlets such as Twitter.
The 52-year-old described how he received two abusive tweets 12 months ago after officiating in a game between Manchester United and Liverpool.
During the match, he sent off Liverpool's Jonjo Shelvey and awarded United a penalty which was scored by Robin van Persie.
Both tweets referred to his recovery from throat cancer in 2009.
And Halsey said: "There is no hiding place on the field and you have to be mentally tough.
"But it also follows you off the field more and more now and it can destroy you.
"I do feel that referees should get more help to cope with the increasing level of mental strain.
"In my view, given some of the episodes of recent seasons, it will not be long before a referee has a nervous breakdown.
"I also believe that if we do not do something to help referees with mental health and stress issues, then we could see a suicide."
But following those two Tweets after the incident-packed game at Anfield in September 2012, Halsey claims there was little concern shown by his immediate superiors.
He went on: "I got little from my bosses apart from a call from Mike Riley, the head of the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) and one from the Select Group manager Keren Barratt asking if I wanted to come off my next game at Southampton."