VIDEO: Exposing the vile abuse of match officials
The vile abuse and death threats directed at retired England referee Wayne Barnes is well documented.
The abuse and threats were cited among the reasons for his decision to retire after South Africa’s 12-11 victory over New Zealand in the World Cup Final in Paris last year.
It has been reported that match officials, including TMOs, received 49 percent of the total abuse during the tournament, while three match officials were in the top 10 most targeted individuals.
Barnes was the most targeted individual, receiving one-third of all abuse.
His wife Polly was directly warned that she and their children would be attacked or killed.
Barnes first hit the headlines in 2007, after France beat New Zealand in a contentious World Cup quarterfinal.
Back then a social media group called “Wayne Barnes Must Die” emerged, and he was described as the ‘third most evil man in the world’ after Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
However, it has now gone to the next level.
“We know where you live, we’ll be waiting outside the kids’ school,” were among the hate mail he received.
“We’re going to burn your house down with the kids in it,” were other threats.
Now a new documentary, lifting the lid on all this vile abuse, was released by RugbyPass TV.
Whistleblowers is a ground-breaking film that documents the lives and experiences of the match officials at the World Cup in France last year.
It gives viewers exclusive access to behind-the-scenes footage of the training and preparation elite referees go through, alongside in-depth interviews and reactions to some of the most crucial moments of the tournament.
(WATCH as retired South African referee Jaco Peyper – in the ground-documentary Whistleblowers – speaks about the abuse his children experienced at school, because people disliked how he refereed matches….)
“We want to lift the lid for fans on what we are living every day,” retired South African referee Jaco Peyper said.
“It is a hugely rewarding job with the best seats in the house for some of the biggest sports encounters.
“Some call it the toughest job in sport, and there are huge highs and lows, but the experiences, the friendship and the places are a privilege also.
“Hopefully viewers will understand that we are normal human beings with families, trying to be the best we can be, and give them a better understanding of the environment we operate in and our dedication to the sport we love.”
Peyper, who suffered a career-ending injury in the World Cup quarterfinal in France last October, explained how the arrival of a second child had changed his world between the 2019 and 2023 World Cup tournaments.
“It was hard work and different four years than the previous one,” he said of the build-up to the 2019 and 2023 tournaments.
He explained how children at school started abusing his daughter.
“They [two young boys] called her the names their fathers called me,” Peyper said.
“Then the teacher phoned and said it is better if you just remove her from this environment for a couple of days until it blows over.”
Peyper said he felt like he had let his family down.