Football

Scotland embroiled in referees row

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Scotland faces a football shutdown next weekend after referees decided to take a stand against perceived attacks on their personal integrity.

Scotland's category one officials are understood to have voted to refuse appointments for the upcoming round of fixtures following a meeting on Sunday.

Referees have become increasingly concerned for their safety, and that of their families, in the wake of criticism from a number of quarters amid what they claim are slights on their character.

Match officials have dominated the Scottish football agenda since Dougie McDonald rescinded a penalty he initially awarded to Celtic during their 2-1 Clydesdale Bank Premier League victory at Dundee United on October 17.

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan, who launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding McDonald's decision, later announced plans to launch a "respect" campaign towards match officials. But former SPL referee Stuart Dougal on Sunday claimed that match officials had overwhelmingly supported the idea to withdraw their labour.

Dougal told Sky Sports News: "My understanding is it was unanimous. It's not against any criticism over the peaceful fans generally, nor managers and players coming out after a match and putting a point across.

"What's got to referees is the level of abuse, the intensity of the criticism and of the scrutiny. A number of referees have aired concern about safety and that is something they have decided they cannot take any longer.

"My understanding is there are referees who believe, not only their own personal safety, but that of their family (is at risk) as well: when it gets to that level it is unacceptable."

Dougal added: "The last six weeks there probably hasn't been a day go by when there hasn't been a referees story and it has gone beyond one or two decisions on the pitch, it's become innuendo and that in turns fuels certain views.

"The referees have decided enough is enough and I agree with them."

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