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Scottish football referee resigns over anti-gay Facebook posts

Nick Duffy June 15, 2019
Football referee Stephen Brown has resigned (Scottish FA)

Referee Stephen Brown has resigned (Scottish FA)

A top-level Scottish football referee has resigned after his history of posting anti-gay and sectarian messages on social media was exposed.

Scottish FA referee Stephen Brown decided to quit over the Facebook messages, which date from 2010, and target the Glasgow-based Celtic Football Club and the team’s manager Neil Lennon with abuse.

Football referee posted anti-gay abuse

Brown faced an independent disciplinary hearing over the messages in 2014, when he was a referee for a lower football tier, but was let off at the time with a censure and a slap on the wrist.

However, the referee is now qualified to oversee the top tier of the sport, meaning he could have been called upon to officiate at Celtic games.

The abuse targeted Celtic manager Neil Lennon
The abuse, posted on Facebook in 2010, was personally targeted at Celtic manager Neil Lennon (Mark Runnacles/Getty)

Brown confirmed in a statement on Saturday (June 15) that he has decided to resign, after the comments surfaced in the media.

Referee ‘regrets’ past comments

In a statement to the Scottish Daily Mail, Brown said: “[I take] full responsibility for the posts, made during a period of great personal difficulty.

“I expressed deep regret and remorse at the time and the person I am now is unrecognisable to the person I was then.

“I am devastated that my actions from the past will prevent me from fulfilling my potential as a match official.”

— Stephen Brown

“I am embarrassed by what I wrote but there were personal issues I was dealing with that, while they don’t mitigate that behaviour, explain it.”

He added: “Refereeing has given me a second chance in life and I am grateful for that opportunity.

“I am devastated that my actions from the past will prevent me from fulfilling my potential as a match official but appreciate that perceptions linger, regardless of how much sorrow or regret I express.”

More: Anti-gay, football, Gay, homophobic, posts, referee, Scottish football, sport

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