Ref­eree Clat­ten­burg off to new job in Saudi Ara­bia

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - ROB HAR­RIS

Mark Clat­ten­burg, who ref­er­eed the top games in world soc­cer in 2016, sud­denly quit the English Premier League on Thurs­day for a job in Saudi Ara­bia.

Clat­ten­burg will re­place Howard Webb as head of ref­er­ees for the Saudis after the 2010 World Cup fi­nal ref­eree was hired by Ma­jor League Soc­cer to lead the de­vel­op­ment of video tech­nol­ogy for on­field of­fi­cials.

Clat­ten­burg, who first re­vealed his plans to leave Eng­land in a re­cent in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press, is set to com­bine ref­er­ee­ing games with his new off-field re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in the Mid­dle East.

“We de­cided to bring the best ref­eree in the world,” Saudi Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion Pres­i­dent Adel Ez­zat said on Thurs­day.

“His job is the eval­u­a­tion of ref­er­ees, but at the same time he will have some matches to ref­eree, be­tween three to four matches a month.”

Ez­zat said the 41-year-old Clat­ten­burg will take charge of the Cham­pi­ons League game be­tween Barcelona and Paris Saint-Ger­main next month, but it is un­clear if he will re­main on the UEFA and FIFA lists. He was in con­tention for the 2018 World Cup in Rus­sia.

“At the mo­ment FIFA is wait­ing for some more in­for­ma­tion about the fu­ture of Mark Clat­ten­burg,” the global gov­ern­ing body told the AP.

Clat­ten­burg, whose de­par­ture date from the Premier League is yet to be an­nounced, re­cently made the highly un­usu­ally step of pub­licly stat­ing his de­sire for a job abroad.

“Money has never been a driver as a ref­eree,” Clat­ten­burg told the AP in De­cem­ber. “It’s about the drive of do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent, maybe help­ing the re­cruit­ment ... a bit like Howard Webb has done (in Saudi Ara­bia) where you are help­ing an­other coun­try de­velop ref­er­ee­ing.”

Clat­ten­burg ref­er­eed the fi­nals of the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship, Cham­pi­ons League and FA Cup last year.

Pro­fes­sional Game Match Of­fi­cials, the or­ga­ni­za­tion which pro­vides and trains of­fi­cials for the English leagues, said Clat­ten­burg had been “set­ting stan­dards for oth­ers to fol­low.”

“Mark is a tal­ented ref­eree, he has been a great as­set to the English game,” the PGMO said.

“We un­der­stand this is an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity for Mark as well as fur­ther un­der­lin­ing what high es­teem English match of­fi­cials are held through­out the world game.”

RUI VIEIRA, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Mark Clat­ten­burg, who ref­er­eed the top games in world soc­cer in 2016, is quit­ting the Premier League for a job in Saudi Ara­bia.

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