London (AFP) – British lawmaker Douglas Ross says he will no longer referee football matches while parliament is sitting — meaning his dream of officiating at next year’s World Cup is over.
The Scottish Conservative MP was criticised for missing a vote on welfare policy in the House of Commons earlier this month to help officiate in the Champions League.
He said his decision meant he will no longer be able to referee at most international matches, adding that his “dream” of officiating at the World Cup in Russia is now over.
Ross defended his decision to miss a debate earlier this month, stating that he knew he would not be able to speak in it, while arrangements had been put in place to ensure his absence would not affect any vote.
However, he said he had reflected on the criticism he received.
He said his role as an MP was his “number one priority” and he had realised he could no longer do both jobs.
“I’m greatly indebted to the many local people who expressed their support for me to continue to referee as well as be their MP,” Ross said in a statement to local press in his constituency.
“And while I have one of the highest voting records of any MP and many of my political opponents, and fiercest critics of late, have several outside jobs and interests, I know that the fury my last match caused will be repeated any time I am appointed to a match when parliament is sitting in the future.”
Ross had missed a debate to work as an assistant referee at the Barcelona v Olympiakos game in Spain on October 18.
Theresa May was forced to defend him when Scottish National Party MP John McNally brandished a red card, saying members of the public were “expected to turn up to their day jobs or face sanctions”.
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