Football referee Urs Meier understands what under-pressure South African rugby referee Craig Joubert is going through. After all, he had to go into hiding away from his family for 10 days and had security guards protecting his workplace after a decision that cost England in Euro 2004.
Meier told BBC Sport of his own traumatic experience as Joubert continues to attract a wave of criticism in the media for his late penalty decision that allowed Australia knock Scotland out of the Rugby World Cup.
Meier’s contact details and address were published in English newspapers after he after he disallowed a Sol Campbell goal in England’s Euro 2004 defeat by Portugal.
“I was on the front page of the Sun for three or four days. Journalists came to my home town, asking people questions about me.
“In the first day, there were more than 5,000 phonecalls from England in my office. In the first hour, I got more than 16,000 emails. I had to cancel the address. The prime minister, Tony Blair, said on television that I had made a wrong decision. The whole of England was against me!
“The police in Switzerland were afraid that English supporters would come to my office, or that something would happen with my employees or my family. I had two armed security men in front of my business for a week.
“I had no contact with my family for 10 days. The police forbade it. I went to the French part of Switzerland in the woods, far away from anything.” Meier told BBC that his children had been offered Premier League match tickets to speak with reporters.
“My family was really under pressure. At school, my children were attacked by their classmates. My 14-year-old son was told ‘your father made a terrible mistake. He is a bad referee’. It was not an easy time for him.” World Rugby has been criticised in many quarters for issuing a statement confirming Joubert made a mistake, but Meier, who believes he was right to disallow Campbell’s goal, would have welcomed a statement from Uefa in 2004.
“If Uefa had made a statement saying ‘look, it’s a clear foul’, the campaign against me would have ended after one or two days,” he said. “But they said nothing.
“The association has to help the referee. He is the long arm of the association on the field. They have a duty and a responsibility to protect referees, but there was no protection in my case.”
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