Bobby Madley is set for a return to refereeing in England, despite being sacked by PGMOL for mocking a disabled person.

Jamie Vardy of Leicester City speaks with Bobby Madley, Match Referee during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Leicester City at The Hawthorns on March 10, 2018 in West Bromwich, England.
WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND – MARCH 10: Jamie Vardy of Leicester City speaks with Bobby Madley, Match Referee during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Leicester City at The Hawthorns on March 10, 2018 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Bobby Madley ‘quit’ as a referee in 2018 in a move that was said to have sent ‘shocks’ through PGMOL, the overlords of officialdom, but the former official broke his silence in January about what happened and it raised even more questions about PGMOL and what they get up to out of sight.

This latest move makes those questions even more pressing.

In January, Madley revealed that he was sacked by PGMOL for sharing a video of himself mocking a disabled person.

We can all agree that is a sackable offence, yes?

At the time of his sacking, however, PGMOL released the following statement: “Bobby Madley is no longer employed by PGMOL. We understand that he has decided to relocate due to a change in his personal circumstances.”

“I’m not proud of myself,” Madley said last month, in comments he had no need to make about a video few had seen in which he reportedly shows a disabled person and ‘jokes’ that he “had a chance of winning the parent’s race this year.”

“I have to live with this for the rest of my life. It destroyed my career, my reputation and caused immeasurable damage to my family life.”

Well, as most white men find out, these sorts of things don’t tend to destroy their careers at all, they simply introduce a slight bump along the road that’s easily navigated. Simply hide away for a little while and then come back as if nothing has happened and it will all be fine.

When Madley released his statement last month it seemed very odd but now it is clear he was laying the groundwork for a return to the game and it’s farcical.

Guardian, 14 February 2020
Guardian, 14 February 2020

He could have issued his apology after the incident itself, but he said nothing.

PGMOL could have used the whole affair as a chance to show they will not tolerate any form of discrimination, but they said nothing. In fact, they did worse than that, they played dumb.

Now, Madley is returning to a refereeing career just a few weeks ago he was crying was ‘destroyed’. And the best bit? Since his sacking he’s been refereeing in Norway! Hardly any definition of ‘destroyed’ that I’ve come across.

Madley will return as a national list referee rather that a select list one, but we all know it will just be a matter of time before he’s back in the Premier League as everybody carries on as if nothing happened.

He will initially be in charge of non-league matches for the rest of the season before being allowed to take charge of League One and Two games.

“I have never tried to excuse my actions,” said Madley who also never tried to reveal them until he wanted to return to England to referee.

“I have never looked to blame anyone but myself. I am not proud of my actions in 2018 and I have learned from this and feel I am a better and stronger person for it. PGMOL dealt with what they considered a discriminatory act in the strongest way. There can be no criticism for that and I have never sought to do anything other than respect the decision and to learn from it as a person.

“I can only thank them for having the ability to forgive, recognise that one naive moment does not define a person and offer me a second chance to do what I love to do.”

Me, me, me.

I’m certainly not against second chances and believe that people can and do learn from their mistakes. I had made plenty myself.

My issue around all this is the way Madley and PGMOL hid it, only issuing an apology and clarification around what happened when they obviously knew Madley was returning to the game in England.

Would Madley have ever have done that if he had been forced to move to another career? I guess we’ll never know because, unlike people who really do have their careers destroyed, all that really happened to Madley is he was demoted and went to live in a really nice country for a couple of years.

Devastating.

Now, shall we talk about the impact the type of behaviour Madley displayed has on the lives of disabled people?

Yeah, thought not…

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.