Ipswich referee in Olympic Games call-up hoax

AN IPSWICH referee has revealed how he was duped into thinking he had been shortlisted to officiate at this summer’s Olympic Games.

Les King received a letter earlier this year which he thought was an official invitation to participate in London 2012.

Part of the letter read: “It gives me the greatest pleasure to advise you that because of your dedication, honest, unfailing and continued efforts as a senior amateur referee, you have been selected to join a shortlist of candidates to participate in one or more of the Men’s or Women’s football ties as the match referee or referee’s assistant.”

King, who has been a qualified official since 1998, said: “I had officiated at an FA Youth Cup tie last season between Brantham Athletic and Needham Market, which is probably the biggest game I have ever done, and had a good game, and I thought the invitation may have been in response to that.

“When I received it I thought I had got an official letter from the Football Association. There was a stamped addressed envelope to return to the Eastern Region Area Selection Committee for the Olympics Football based at Writtle, near Chelmsford.

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“I started filling out the form, but when I came to the section which said ‘Are you in receipt of any state benefit or pension?’ I realised it was a scam as it was just before my 65th birthday!

“I was set up – and I think I know who it was! I won’t say who except that I think it was another referee in partnership with his brother. When I went on the internet I found the postcode on the letter was actually for the RSPCA at Writtle, and my friend’s brother was an RSPCA inspector at Chelmsford.

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“I did get in touch with Colin Hills, who is referee development manager at Suffolk FA, and he contacted the FA in London, who said it was a scam.”

King, who is a Level 5 referee and officiates in the Kent Blaxill Border League and Ridgeons Youth League as well as schools’ and youth matches, admitted: “I was really taken in by it, and word has since got around and local referees know about it.”

Instead of officiating at the recent Olympics Games, King made his annual trip to Denmark along with fellow Ipswich referees Andy Chapman and Mike Hamilton,to officiate in the week-long Dana Cup, which features more than 900 teams from around the globe, .

There he had the privilege of refereeing a match involving Brazilian side Karanba Under-19s, who are one of the best youth sides in the world.

“I have been attending the tournament for several years now, and for the first time I was given a match to referee which kicked-off at 7.30am.

“I told the organisers I would not be able to do it because I don’t wake up until 8.30am!” said King, who has clearly not lost his sense of humour.

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