Referees denounce Mourinho as 'enemy of football'

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The Independent Football

Europe's most senior refereeing official yesterday accused Jose Mourinho of being an "enemy of football" for his role in inciting hysteria among Chelsea fans against Anders Frisk, the Swedish official who confirmed his retirement over the weekend in the wake of death threats.

Europe's most senior refereeing official yesterday accused Jose Mourinho of being an "enemy of football" for his role in inciting hysteria among Chelsea fans against Anders Frisk, the Swedish official who confirmed his retirement over the weekend in the wake of death threats.

Frisk was the referee for the first leg of Chelsea's last-16 Champions' League match against Barcelona, in the Nou Camp on 23 February, when Barça came from 1-0 down to win 2-1 after Frisk dismissed Didier Drogba.

Frisk has since endured what he has described as "the worst two weeks of my life", becoming the victim of abuse and threats via phone, fax and e-mail. While he has not yet publicised the nature of the threats, he believes they were the work of militant Chelsea fans and he has become sufficiently scared for his family's safety to bring a swift end to his refereeing career.

Mourinho, Chelsea's manager, has now been cited as partly responsible for the vendetta by Volker Roth, the chairman of Uefa's referees' committee.

"It's the coaches who whip up the masses and actually make them threaten people to death," Roth told the Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet. "We can't accept that one of our absolutely best referees is forced to quit because of this. People like Mourinho are the enemy of football."

Mourinho accused his Barcelona counterpart, Frank Rijkaard, of trying to influence the outcome of the first-leg game by speaking to Frisk during half-time. Mourinho skipped the mandatory press conference after the match and his conduct is currently the subject of a Uefa investigation.

"It is totally untrue that Rijkaard came into my room," Frisk said. "There are lots of managers that have to start thinking about the consequences of their behaviour.

"I still claim what I did in Barcelona [during the match] was correct, but I could never in my wildest imagination understand what it would lead to."

Frisk, 42, a leading Uefa referee and a veteran of 132 international matches, including the Euro 2000 final, announced his retirement on the Swedish FA's website. Bo Karlsson of the Swedish referees' association said yesterday: "He feels danger for his own and his family's life... Anders has not told us exactly what was involved in [the threats]. He has kept that to himself [but] said that most were coming from England."

Chelsea have declined to comment.

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