In a long interview with the BBC, the now ex-international referee Waynes Barnes, who recently announced he was putting away the whistle, returned to the insults he received during the World Cup and targeted social networks. The Englishman says he is “touched” and revealed that not only did these insults target him, but also his family. “When people make threats against your wife and children, they must be held accountable and punished,” he said.
“Threats of sexual violence, threats to say we know where you live... It crosses the line. Social media just keeps getting worse and that's the sad thing about this sport right now. This is not an isolated case. I am on social media for many reasons. One of them is to promote the charitable work that I do and to promote refereeing, to explain how difficult work it is and to humanize it,” continues the referee of the final, who saw South Africa win against the All Blacks (12-11).
As a reminder, the most successful referee on the world circuit (111 tests refereed) gave a red card to Sam Cane, the captain and third row of the All Blacks in the final. He was also under fire last year when the Springboks were beaten by the French XV at the Marseille Vélodrome. Blues captain Antoine Dupont received a red card, as did South African flanker Pieter Steph du Toit. Criticism intensified when Rassie Erasmus, then coach of the reigning world champions, also targeted him.
“The part that I have always struggled with and will continue to struggle with is when this abuse affects my family. I want prosecution services to consider ways to do it, I want legislation on what social media sites can do to prevent it and I also want governing bodies to consider what they can do,” says Wayne Barnes. The English referee was also marked by the criticism from José Mourinho, the AS Roma coach, towards Anthony Taylor, international football referee, as well as the insults he received from supporters at Budapest airport. The latter officiated during the Europa League final last year between Sevilla and Roma.
“It was extremely sad. It could have been me and my family after a game, Barnes said. I remember watching Anthony's video and I was devastated because you see the human side. People don't see the human side of refereeing. They think we are men or women who come in on a Saturday afternoon and ruin their day. But we are human beings with families and children and seeing Anthony that day completely broke me.” Before concluding: “It’s in these kinds of moments that we wonder why we do this.”