Former Premier League ref Madley reveals ‘dark-humoured’ joke led to sacking

The official was dismissed in 2018 after making a joke he regrets and admits ‘reads shamefully’

Former Premier League referee Bobby Madley has revealed he was sacked for sending a video in which he mocked a disabled person.

Madley left his role in August 2018 and refereeing body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) said at the time he had “decided to relocate due to a change in his personal circumstances”.

However, the 34-year-old explained in a blog post on Tuesday – titled ‘Time to move on’ – that he had been “dismissed with immediate effect for gross misconduct on grounds of discrimination”.

Madley wrote that he sent a video to a friend, which was later passed to his employers, in which he captioned a clip of a person with a walking impairment: “F*ck me, I have a chance of winning the parents race this year.”

The official said he had been “fat shamed” in the media and described as “Blobby Bobby”, so he had intended the message as a private joke.

“Out of context, I accept this reads shamefully. I accept that,” Madley wrote. “However, my intention was that the joke was aimed at myself.”

He added: “I regret taking the video, I regret sending that video, and while it was a dark humoured joke, it was just that: a joke.

“It was not intended to shame anyone, it was not intended to be seen by anyone other than the person I sent it to privately in a text message on my own personal phone.”

Madley, whose late father was disabled, said he was “stunned” over his dismissal by PGMOL for a “badly misjudged joke”.

He wrote: “I started refereeing at 16, my career was over at 32. I had my dream job, a well paid and incredibly enjoyable job that I loved every single minute of.

“The footballs and medals are now all I have to remember those years of dedication and hard work.”

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Madley officiated his first Premier League game in April 2013 and was forced to send off three players in a fiery introduction to the competition. 

Across four seasons, he was no stranger to a contentious call and was criticised for his refereeing across the 2017-18 season. 

Since being sacked from the Premier League, Madley has gone on to officiate six-a-side football and was in charge for the format’s 2019 World Cup final. 

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