Bobby Madley has opened up on his regret over the six-second video of a “dark private joke” that cost him his job as a Premier League referee.
Madley’s career as one of England’s most senior officials came to an end in the August 2018 with league management initially suggesting that he was relocating due to a “change in personal circumstances”.
While Madley does now live in Norway with his partner, where he now officiates, the move came after he was sacked for gross misconduct for a video he took of a person with a disability.
Opening up on his dismissal for the first time, he admits that the last 18 months have been “mental torture” for him and he is full of regret for his actions.
The 34-year-old has penned the full story in an emotional blog post on The Referee’s Word , as he looks to draw a line under the ordeal and move on with his life.
(Image: Getty Images)
Addressing the truth behind his sacking, Madley begins by explaining how it began with a light-hearted joke about him not taking part in the parents’ race at his daughter’s school sports day in the years previous because he was ‘scared of losing’.
It also came after fellow former Premier League referee Mark Halsey called him ‘Blobby Bobby’ in a newspaper column, claiming his weight was a reason for a number of decisions he believed Madley got wrong.
The video was filmed on his daughter’s sports day and Madley explains: “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.
(Image: Getty Images)
“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.
“Had I have sent this to anyone on Snapchat then I would accept the decision that later came as a result. I didn’t do that though. I saved it to my phone.
“I sent it as a private text to somebody who I trusted, somebody who had been a huge part of my life for the previous 10 years and who I was on reasonable terms with.
“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. 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 privately to in a text message on my own personal phone (not a work phone).”
(Image: Liverpool Echo/Colin Lane)
Madley had a disagreement with the person he sent the video to in the following weeks and the clip ended up on the desk of the Professional Game Match Officials.
Action against him was subsequently taken.
He added: “I am not proud of that video and as I said I have to live with that for the rest of my life.
“In context, it was a 6 second video, a dark private joke that cost me my career.
“Please don’t think bad of me. I’m a human being who made one mistake, one that many many people have done themselves and not lost everything for. Again, I have to pick those pieces up.”
Madley also opened up on a ludicrous social media rumour that he had been forced to leave the Premier League due to a video of himself and a dog.
(Image: Getty Images)
No such video existed, but it caused immense pain and stress for Madley, who required police protection due to the severity of the accusation.
Madley wrote: “Rumours began to appear on Twitter that the reason I left is because I had been filmed having sex with a dog.
“I have to say I found this hilarious to begin with that people would somehow arrive at that conclusion. The fact was somebody posted that I’m a ‘dog botherer’ in relation to me being a Huddersfield Town fan (the Terriers) and so the rumour began.
“The more the day went on the less funny it became. Suddenly people were taking this seriously and now copying the story to the police on Twitter saying I should be investigated.
“Others stated they had seen the video themselves and that I was disgusting and should be arrested.
“People have no idea the reputational damage something like that can do, never mind the mental issues it can cause.
“Even at Headingley while watching Yorkshire v Notts in a T20 I was verbally abused in the stands which very nearly ended in a fight.
“Whilst I didn’t have my own social media page at the time, I was reading threats against me, very serious threats, from animal rights people who were trying to find out my address.
“The evening ended up with police protection for me due to these threats being taken very seriously.
“The story trended worldwide that evening and since that day I have received abuse regarding what is ultimately a ridiculous story.”