English referee Mark Clattenburg, 33, "was widely regarded as the brightest young talent in English football refereeing...who soared through the ranks in record time and looked destined for fame on the greatest stages," writes Nick Harris. But all that came to an end Wednesday when he was sacked as a Premier League referee following an inquiry into his financial affairs.
Clattenburg reffed his first English Football League game aged just 25, and four years later became a
professional. At 30, he was named to the FIFA roster to take charge of international games. But Harris quotes sources as saying that his sacking, which is not in any way related to corruption in
soccer, arose "from failing to disclose in full or on time details about debts relating to businesses he ran as an electrician, his former trade."
The referee was initially
suspended last August when his bosses at Professional Game Match Officials Limited received emails alleging he had debts of $250,000 and "that he had sent an allegedly threatening email to a
business associate." A five-month investigation ensued, with Clattenburg consistently protesting his innocence, but the PGMOL called him in last week and told him he was sacked. Clattenburg plans to
appeal, but Harris says the case reflects the high standards now required for referees, and that personal debt outside of the game leaves a referee open to potential manipulation.