Saturday, August 13, 2022
SportScottish PremiershipReferee Willie Collum admits he feels like he has been the victim...

Referee Willie Collum admits he feels like he has been the victim of a witch hunt


Referee Willie Collum admits he feels like he has been the victim of a witch hunt in Scottish football.

Collum was involved in high-profile Premiership controversies last season and was even demoted to the Championship for a spell after awarding a hotly-disputed penalty to Inverness during their win at Aberdeen in February.

Pundit Michael Stewart even claimed he was not fit to officiate at the top level of the domestic game.

Willie CollumBut speaking after he delivered solid refereeing performances at Euro 2016 in France’s win over Albania and Turkey’s victory over the Czech Republic, Collum reckons the criticism he has been subjected too has been over the top.

He said: “Sometimes I’ve been treated harshly. At times, I’m losing before I even blow the first whistle and that’s unfair.

“We need to accept criticism is a huge part of it.

“What disappoints me at times is when people make it personal, or you feel it’s a witch hunt and people are constantly talking about you. I would rather people focus on the positives.”

Speaking to the BBC, he added: “If you look at the statistics, I don’t think I make any more mistakes than any other referees.

“Many people think I’d like to be the centre of attention, but that’s far from the truth.

“Sometimes I’m disappointed with the reaction of people and sometimes it’s undeserved. I’ve never let it affect my confidence, because I don’t think that any referee would attend Euro 2016 if they weren’t consistently performing.

“I make mistakes, but I don’t think I make any more than any other referees, but sometimes people get your name in their mind.

“I try my best and I work hard at my game. Sometimes I need to hide my family away from the criticism and that’s when it can be disappointing, when you become a newspaper or a media headline.

“It was difficult at times last season, but it makes you stronger. Since February, I went on a very good run, my matches were clear of controversy, but if you isolate it, there were probably three matches which didn’t go well.

“In a season when I refereed 59 matches, domestically and aboard, I don’t think anybody could say that’s a ridiculous statistic.”

Collum controversially sent off Callum Paterson during Hearts’ defeat at Hamilton last August for a tackle on Darion McKinnon although the decision was later downgraded to a yellow on appeal.

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson claimed his side had trained with ten men in the build up to the match after taking into account the amount of times that Collum had shown a red card. But Collum insists he is not card-happy.

Collum, who returned from France after the group stages, added: “People have criticised me in the past for having a high card ratio, but if you look at the statistics last season, my card ratio was very low in Scotland.”

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