Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg believes mental health is a serious issue among officials and said the huge pressure is why he left in 2017.
Clattenburg refereed at England’s highest level for 13 years and was widely considered one of the best European referees in that time.
As well as his 297 Premier League matches, Clattenburg also took charge of a number of high-profile matches across the globe, including the 2016 Champions League final and Euro 2016 final.
However, he admits the pressure of refereeing at the highest level is why he left the league for a role in the Saudi Arabian Football Federation back in February 2017.
“The stress levels of refereeing in the Premier League [were a factor],” Clattenburg said.
“Most referees last eight-10 years and then finish because of the stress, the training every day, and the pressure on your body. To do 13 years was a very difficult ask.”
But with more conversations around mental health in football today, Clattenburg feels more referees might get the support they need moving forward.
“I think in the past, it was [seen as] a sign of weakness but now more and more people are speaking out. Therefore, football is supporting not just the players, but the referees,” Clattenburg added.
“When I was coming through the system, I had to use people – friendships. They used to help me deal with issues that I used to have – dealing with abuse, issues in your private life.
“It’s always difficult because you’re in the public eye and you have a responsibility, but, either way, it’s important that people go out and get the help they need.”
Clattenburg’s career in the limelight coincided with the growth of social media, with the referee calling on social media companies to do more in the fight against online abuse.
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