Former Premier League referee Bobby Madley has spoken about his inner turmoil after a malicious rumour circulated about him online.
The 34-year-old was sacked by PGMOL in 2018, who mysteriously claimed he ‘decided to relocate due to a change in his personal circumstances’.
Social media users began to speculate why he was disappearing from the game aged just 32 – and a bizarre fake rumour began to spread, suggesting he had sex with a dog.
Madley told The Athletic: “I’m a Huddersfield fan, Huddersfield being the Terriers, and I think it was a Leeds fan who put out a comment that I was a ‘dog botherer’. Then it just snowballed online.
“People were putting up pictures, quite inventive stuff, and some of them were funny. But then people started tagging in the police and the RSPCA and it started to get out of hand.
“All of a sudden, it was trending number nine worldwide. Suddenly, people were saying they had seen a video and that I should be arrested.
“Then, there were animal rights campaigners saying, ‘I know where he lives’. I ended up needing police protection, all from a nonsense rumour.”
Madley was actually sacked after appearing to mock someone with a disability on Snapchat.
He videoed someone in a wheelchair and captioned the clip ‘f**k me I have a chance of winning the parents race this year’.
In the aftermath of his sacking and the resulting speculation that came with it, Madley reveals his mental health took a massive hit.
He added: “It got as low as it could. I was hiding something inside. You know you’re having a tough time but you’re smiling with people and telling yourself you must be all right.
“Then the moment the lights go out at night, your head comes alive. I’d be sitting up at three in the morning, in tears, thinking about everything, wondering what I could have done differently.
“I’d find myself going on Twitter to look through every post that was about me. I was searching for that one positive line, just one person to say, ‘Leave him alone, he’s a really nice guy’ or ‘He doesn’t deserve this’.
“I was tormenting myself and, of course, what you get on Twitter are people criticising you, and worse.”