A former English Premier League referee has opened up about the “dark-humoured joke” that cost him his job.
Bobby Madley ceased officiating at the highest level in England in August 2018, with refereeing officials saying only that he was relocated due to a change in personal circumstances.
Madley moved to Norway, where his partner is from, but only after he was sacked for sending a video to someone he “trusted” which apparently mocked a disabled person.
With what has been the hardest 18 months of my life, I feel it is now time to end this decade with the full story of why I no longer referee in the PL.
This is not aimed at any individual, it’s just the story laid bare. I have to move on now.
— Bobby Madley (@BobbyMadley2) December 31, 2019
In a long post on therefereesword.blogspot.com, Madley has explained he took the video after being ribbed about a parents’ race at his daughter’s school and a newspaper article written by former referee Mark Halsey claiming he was making mistakes because he was overweight.
“The full page and headline of ‘Blobby Bobby’ may seem funny to some but, trust me, being fat shamed in a national newspaper is not a nice feeling,” Madley wrote.
“As I sat in my car with my phone in hand, a person walked past my car in front of me who had a walking impairment. The next part I am ashamed of.
“I took a six-second film, I said nothing. I did this in Snapchat, which is where I take all of my films that I intend to save to my phone.
“On the video I wrote, ‘F**k me I have a chance of winning the parents race this year.’ Out of context I accept this reads shamefully. I accept that. However, my intention was that the joke was aimed at myself.”
Madley said had he posted it on Snapchat, he would accept the decision that came as a result but didn’t.
“I saved it to my phone,” he said.
“I sent it as a private text to somebody who I trusted. Somebody who understood the context of previous sports day comments and was aware of the fat shaming I had received.
“I regret taking the video, I regret sending that video and, whilst it was a dark-humoured joke, it was just that.”
Madley said the footage was not intended to be seen by anyone other than the person he privately sent it to.
He claimed the recipient sent it to his employers and a disciplinary hearing resulted in his immediate dismissal.
“At that point my world fell apart,” he said.
“Whilst I absolutely understand the importance of an employer taking discrimination seriously, as they did, the decision to this day still stuns me.
“I will never be able to accept that the decision taken was either necessary nor was it proportionate to the act.”