Foreign referees show solidarity

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The Scottish Football Association's plans to recruit foreign referees to replace their striking Scottish colleagues suffered a blow on Tuesday when Norwegian and Icelandic officials refused to break the picket line.

After grade one referees voted on Sunday to withdraw their labour due to fears about safety amid an increasing climate of criticism, SFA chief executive Stewart Regan began scouring Europe for replacements, with Iceland, Ireland and the Scandinavian countries among his targets.

However, Rune Pedersen, head of referees for the Norwegian FA, confirmed that officials in Norway would not be making themselves available this weekend, and said: "We have informed the SFA that we are unable to supply them with referees."

He added: "There are three main reasons why.

"First of all, there are 12 top-class referees and 25 assistants who are down to go to Denmark for a seminar at the weekend.

"Secondly, there are 12 of our referees preparing for Europa League games next week.

"But referees are also worried about taking charge of matches in Scotland when their colleagues in Scotland are in dispute with their FA.

"I have discussed it with them and they have said they would not approve of referees coming to Norway if they had been in conflict with the Norwegian FA."

Sigurdur Thorleifsson, head of the referees' union in Iceland said on Tuesday morning that Icelandic referees would be "ready if they want us to help out Scottish football."

However, by the afternoon, a U-turn had been performed after discussion with Scottish referees.

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