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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 June, 2004, 06:36 GMT 07:36 UK
Merk slams English press
Swiss referee Urs Meier
Meier was criticised for disallowing a goal
Euro 2004 final referee Markus Merk has hit out at the English press for their treatment of fellow official Urs Meier.

Meier disallowed Sol Campbell's header in England's loss to Portugal and has since been vilified in some newspapers.

Merk said: "All the referees are very angry at the behaviour of certain English journalists

"It cannot be right for the press to harass a person who is trying to do his best and we cannot accept that people follow him into his private life."

Merk added: "There can never be a perfect match and the sad thing is that it was a wonderful game of football.

"It is not even a question of whether a referee is right or if he is wrong - that is not the issue."

Merk was backed in his criticism of the English press by the world's most high-profile referee, Pierluigi Collina.

The Italian referee said: "The difference between the public figure and the private person should be respected.

"The private life should be respected."

On Monday, Uefa's referees' committee had thrown its full support behind Meier and produced television pictures which it claimed supported the Swiss official's verdict.

"The way some of the English press have blamed Urs Meier after a correct decision is completely unacceptable," said committee president Volker Roth.

"To go into his private life, to show his wife, his car and put an England flag on his house is unacceptable.

"If the press reacts in this way we must reconsider and say clearly and openly this is not a good way."

Some English newspapers published Meier's telephone number and email address after he disallowed Campbell's header in the dying minutes of England's quarter-final defeat to Portugal.

Meier said he had been badly disturbed by the reaction to his decision.

"It is a heavy attack, it's not the right way to deal with such decisions," he said.

I was 100% certain it was a foul and it was correct to rule out the goal
Urs Meier

"The phone has been ringing constantly all day and night. The email is blocked, the office is blocked.

"I feel it is not the right way to handle a decision, whether it was right or wrong. It is not right to go into the private life of the referee.

"The referee must be protected from the journalists, from all people. He is the only man in the field who is really neutral and I have not been protected from the English newspapers."

The referees' committee said it had viewed the incident many times on video and unanimously agreed that defender John Terry's challenge on Portugal keeper Ricardo was a foul.

Referees' supremo Kenneth Ridden added: "The referees committee discussed the matter thoroughly and we believe he made the right decision.

"The feeling of the committee after looking at the incident several times is to support the referee and his decision.

"Holding is an offence and must be punished according to the laws."

Links to more Euro 2004 stories


Quotes of the week
29 Jun 04  |  Quotes of Week


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