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Former Premier League and EFL referee reveals ‘dark joke’ in video that got him sacked

Former Premier League and EFL referee Bobby Madley has revealed he was sacked for filming a video in which he appeared to mock a disabled person.

Madley was forced to quit officiating back in August 2018, with the refereeing body Professional Game Match Officials Limited stating that that he was relocating due to “a change in personal circumstances”.

However, in a blog posted on New Year’s Eve 2019, Madley explained that he was actually dismissed for “gross misconduct on grounds of discrimination”.

He said: “I’m not proud of myself.

“I have to live with this for the rest of my life. It destroyed my career, my reputation and caused immeasurable damage to my family life.”

Madley did end up moving over to Norway, which is where his partner comes from, but the reason he was sacked was for sending a video to someone he “trusted” which apparently saw him mock a disabled person prior to his daughter’s sports day.

He said he took the video in response to the other parents teasing him about not taking part because he was scared of losing and “fat shamed” in a national newspaper.

He continued: “As I sat in my car with my phone in hand, a person walked past my car in front of me who had a walking impairment. The next part I am ashamed of. I took a six-second film, I said nothing. I did this in Snapchat, which is where I take all of my films that I intend to save to my phone.”

In the video, Madley said that he “had a chance of winning the parents race this year”.

“Out of context I accept this reads shamefully. I accept that. However, my intention was that the joke was aimed at myself,” he added.

Madley claimed the person who received the video sent it to his employers and a disciplinary hearing decided to immediately dismiss him.

“Had I have sent this to anyone on Snapchat, then I would accept the decision that later came as a result,” he said. “I didn’t do that, though. I saved it to my phone. I sent it as a private text to somebody who I trusted. Somebody who understood the context of previous sports day comments and was aware of the fat shaming I had received.

“I regret taking the video, I regret sending that video and, whilst it was a dark-humoured joke, it was just that. A joke. It was not intended to shame anyone, it was not intended to be seen by anyone other than the person I sent it privately to in a text message on my own personal phone.”

“I started refereeing at 16, my career was over at 32,” he said. “I had my dream job, a well-paid and incredibly enjoyable job that I loved every single minute of.”

He said he is now aiming to help young referees where possible.

“I stand proud on there to support the fight against racism and to support all within the LGBT community both inside and outside of football,” he said.

“I am far from a discriminatory person and yet that is what I am labelled as when you Google my name. That hurts.

“The last 18 months have been mental torture for me and but for those close friends and family around me, as well as a strong partner, I dread to think what could have become.

“I still struggle to sleep, I still suffer mentally day-to-day to try to find the person I am now rather than clinging to the person I once was.”

Madley also opened up on a social media rumour that he had been forced to leave the Premier League due to a video of himself and a dog.

He wrote: “Rumours began to appear on Twitter that the reason I left is because I had been filmed having sex with a dog.

“I have to say I found this hilarious to begin with that people would somehow arrive at that conclusion. The fact was somebody posted that I’m a ‘dog botherer’ in relation to me being a Huddersfield Town fan (the Terriers) and so the rumour began.

“The more the day went on the less funny it became. Suddenly people were taking this seriously and now copying the story to the police on Twitter saying I should be investigated.

“Others stated they had seen the video themselves and that I was disgusting and should be arrested.

“People have no idea the reputational damage something like that can do, never mind the mental issues it can cause.

“Even at Headingley while watching Yorkshire v Notts in a T20 I was verbally abused in the stands which very nearly ended in a fight.

“Whilst I didn’t have my own social media page at the time, I was reading threats against me, very serious threats, from animal rights people who were trying to find out my address.

“The evening ended up with police protection for me due to these threats being taken very seriously.

“The story trended worldwide that evening and since that day I have received abuse regarding what is ultimately a ridiculous story.”


After finding out that former Premier League and EFL referee Bobby Madley was sacked for filming a video mocking a disabled person, fans took to express their sympathy towards him – find out what they wrote on the next page.


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