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SFA call for respect for match officials as police probe threatening messages sent to referee after Rangers v Celtic clash

Referee John Beaton
Referee John Beaton

POLICE are looking into reports that threatening messages were sent to a football referee after his contact details were posted online.

John Beaton, who officiated during Rangers’ 1-0 win over Celtic last weekend, is understood to have contacted officers about abusive calls and texts he received following the match.

He has been the focus of criticism by some for decisions he made during the game at Ibrox on December 29.

In a statement on Friday, Celtic called on the Scottish Football Association to allow Mr Beaton “to explain these decisions publicly as well as any match officials involved in other similar circumstances”.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that a complaint has been made to police regarding texts and calls received by a 36-year-old man.

“Police inquiries are ongoing into this matter.”

Ian Maxwell, Chief Executive of the Scottish FA said: “We are in close contact with those involved and with Police Scotland to ensure that they are safe and that those responsible are identified and held accountable for their actions.

“This is not the first time in recent weeks that our match officials have been targeted. Another referee was allegedly threatened and assaulted at a lower-league game prior to Christmas. These incidents are isolated but are they are unacceptable and extremely concerning when they occur.

“Our match officials make hundreds of decisions each game. They take huge pride in their work but it is inevitable and accepted that some of their decisions will be viewed differently and debated by others. When differences of opinion however manifest as threats to our officials or their families, a line has been crossed.

“Match officials are a vital part of the game and they work exceptionally hard to maintain high standards. We all have a responsibility to support our match officials and, as previously stated, we will shortly be engaging with stakeholders to allow them to discuss issues, air concerns and propose improvements to this area of our game.

“As we look forward to 2019, I call on everyone involved in Scottish football, from the public parks to the international stage, to respect our match officials.”