Former top-flight referee Mark Halsey has warned that an official could commit suicide unless they are given more support to help deal with the pressures of the job.
The 52-year old, who retired from refereeing at the end of last season, believes that it might not be long before a referee decides to take their own life as a result of the mental strain that officiating at the top level can produce.
In his autobiography Added Time, being serialised in The Sun, he writes: "There is no hiding place on the field and you have to be mentally tough. But it also follows you off the field more and more now and it can destroy you.
"I do feel that referees should get more help to cope with the increasing level of mental strain.
"In my view, given some of the episodes of recent seasons, it will not be long before a referee has a nervous breakdown."
Halsey himself had to deal with substantial abuse from supporters during his career, most notably last season where some people took to Twitter to vent their anger at his performance during a 2-1 win for Manchester United against Liverpool at Anfield.
The aforementioned tweets referred to Halsey's treatment for throat cancer in 2009, and he recalls how he was treated following the Tweets that he received.
He writes: "I got little support from my bosses apart from a call from Mike Riley, the head of the PGMOL, and one from the Select Group manager Keren Barratt asking if I wanted to come off my next game at Southampton.
"I also believe that if we do not do something to help referees with mental health and stress issues, then we could see a suicide."
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