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Football

Frisk retires after death threats


story.frisk.jpg
Frisk sends off Didier Drogba in the Barcelona v Chelsea encounter

STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Referee Anders Frisk is to quit after receiving death threats since officiating the Champions League tie between Barcelona and Chelsea.

The Swede revealed he has been repeatedly threatened by Chelsea fans since dismissing Didier Drogba in the 2-1 defeat at Barcelona two weeks ago.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho harshly criticized Frisk after the game, and accused Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard of trying to influence Frisk at halftime.

Chelsea won the second leg 4-2 to advance to the quarterfinals, but Frisk said the threats from Chelsea fans -- coming by phone, e-mail and regular mail -- have escalated in the last week.

"I've had enough. I don't know if I even dare let my kids go to the post office. Then it's gone too far. ... These past 16 days have been the worst in my life as a referee."

Frisk, 42, said he informed UEFA about his decision on Friday. He declined to describe the threats, but said most have come from England. Some were directed to other members of his family, he added.

"It's made me think a lot about what's important in life," he said. "You shouldn't have be subjected to this, shouldn't have to be afraid to make a decision on the field."

Frisk has been one of FIFA's top-ranked referees for the last decade, and has officiated in 118 international matches, including the European Championship final in 2000 between France and Italy. His decision to retire caused strong reactions from the Swedish Football Association.

"It's terrible that this kind of thing should have to make one of the world's best referees quit," said Bo Karlsson, the head of the association's referee division.

Swiss referee Urs Meier also received numerous threats from British fans after disallowing England's goal in the 90th minute in the Euro 2004 quarterfinal against Portugal, but kept refereeing for another three months until UEFA's age requirements forced him to retire.

Frisk was eligible to referee for another three years.

"I felt like the only way I could stop this, the only way to get rid of all the threats, get rid of the constant feeling of worry, was to quit," he said.

Frisk told newspaper Aftonbladet that he received a threatening phone call as recently as Friday. But he stood by the calls he made at the Camp Nou.

"I still claim that what I did in Barcelona was correct, but I could never in my wildest imagination understand what it would lead to," he was quoted as saying. "It's really sad, because I really love to referee."


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