Former English Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has resigned from his position as the president of the Egyptian Football Referees Committee due to safety concerns. He allegedly received threats from a group of fans and verbal abuse from club executives after rumors circulated that he was in a gay relationship.
Clatternburg was also accused of being corrupt by many during his six-month tenure in Egyptian football. The former EPL official was harshly criticized by Mortada Mansour, the president of Zamalek Sporting Club.
In a TV interview, Mansour accused the Englishman of being corrupt while serving in a comparable position in Saudi Arabia, calling him a “bribed man” who offered bribes to referees in specific matches so that the games would end before normal time. However, the allegations are wholly unfounded.
Mansour made further accusations about Clattenburg’s private life and falsely claimed that he left his wife to begin a gay romance. Although same-sex relationships are not expressly forbidden in Egypt, homosexuality is not widely accepted by the general public, and LGBT people have occasionally faced legal troubles.
Besides fearing for his life, Mr. Clatternburg was also facing other issues. Two months’ worth of his $32,000 monthly remuneration allegedly went unpaid. He was also worried that the league was changing his referee appointments, and he had trouble getting foreign officials to come to the country to referee important games.
The allegations of corruption against Clattenburg have prompted Khaled Abu Bakr, a well-known Egyptian cleric, to demand immediate government action and intervene and save the country’s international sporting reputation.
Mr. Clatternburg assumed the position in August of last year, and his responsibility was to improve the performance of Egyptian officials. His resignation was confirmed by the Egyptian FA, but any safety concerns were downplayed.
A tweet from the Egyptian Football Association stated that “The Board of Directors of the Egyptian Football Association decided, at an emergency meeting today, Wednesday, to accept the resignation of Mark Clattenburg.”In accordance with the provisions of the signed contract, the organization further stated that it would “instruct the federation’s legal affairs to take the required actions to safeguard the federation’s rights and the repercussions of his resignation.”
According to the Egyptian publication Al-Ahram, Clattenburg’s resignation surprised the Egyptian FA. The organization stated it would “welcome his return” and disputed that refereeing appointments had been modified. The FA added that worries over his safety were “an exaggeration” and that the nation was the “safest in the world.”
Since leaving his position as a Premier League referee in 2017, Clattenburg has held a number of positions abroad. He first replaced fellow former Premier League official Howard Webb in the position of head of refereeing in Saudi Arabia.
After leaving Saudi Arabia, the 47-year-old worked in China and Greece, then recently Egypt. Clatternburg presided over the 2016 Champions League and European Championship finals, and this demonstrated his reputation as one of Europe’s best referees during his tenure. He honored his accomplishments by getting tattoos of the Champions League trophy and the phrases “Finale Milano 2016” on his left wrist.
The Egyptian Football Association is serious about improving football in the country and will be looking to appoint another high-caliber candidate to replace Mr. Clattenburg. Improving football structures is the only way African countries can begin to be competitive at the international level.