AUDIO: Kiwis not letting up on death threats to World Cup match officials
REACTION: The level of abuse hurled at match officials in the wake of last month’s World Cup Final, has reached unprecedented levels.
In the latest development Tom Foley, the TMO in the Final, revealed not only has he received death threats and online abuse, but there was even a sinister email sent to his children’s school.
It has been revealed that World Rugby has recorded 2,000 posts to Foley and Wayne Barnes (the referee in the Final) since South Africa’s 12-11 win over New Zealand at Stade de France in Paris on October 28.
Those 2000, coming from about 1,600 individuals, are all prosecutable.
In interviews with BBC Radio Somerset and the Two Locks and Cox podcast, he said he received threats to “hunt you down and slit your throat” and the hope that he would die in a car crash.
“Most of it you can take,” Foley said.
“A lot of it is just from keyboard warriors.
“But when they know enough information that it could be a problem, that’s when it gets worrying,” he added.
“[My children’s] school even had an email.”
He said that while it is a ‘tiny minority’, it remains a major problem.
Foley revealed that besides the 2000 threats that are “concerning”, there were probably another 10000 abusive posts not worth paying attention to.
* Listen as World Cup Final TMO Tom Foley reveals the death threats he and his family have been subjected to
“Think of the millions of people who watched that game,” Foley said.
“It’s still a tiny percentage, but the problem is: ‘How are we going to get people to referee?’
“The sport as a whole is going to suffer.”
The match official said the keyboard warriors need to be stopped, by having media users provide identification so they can be traced.
“You can’t hide behind this faceless façade.
“It’s cowardice. It’s complete cowardice.
“They wouldn’t say it to you in the street.
“So why do they feel that they can say it online?”
* Also listen to Tom Foley on the Two Locks and Cox podcast