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By ESPN Staff

Ref gets death threats over Liverpool penalty

Martin Hansson, the referee in charge of Liverpool's recent Champions League clash with Atletico Madrid, has admitted receiving death threats over his decision to award a late penalty to Reds captain Steven Gerrard.

The Swedish referee pointed to the spot in the fourth minute of stoppage time of the game at Anfield, which Atletico were winning 1-0 at the time, for what he perceived to be a push on Gerrard from Mariano Pernia.

The decision cost the Spanish club a place in the last 16 of the Champions League, and has since been derided by many at Atletico and in the Spanish media.

Speaking for the first time about the aftermath of incident, Hansson told Swedish newspaper Sport-Expressen he has had to change numbers and inform the police over a number of threatening calls and text messages.

"I have received death threats. It has been horrible and feels very uncomfortable,'' he said. "I had enough. The phone ran all the time and I had a great many text messages. I am pretty used to this, but now I've had enough. It has been very threatening. I feel completely fed up, quite simply.

"I have always had my mobile phone on and my number has been on the network. Now it no longer works. I'm sad that I can't be as open as I once was. I have notified the police that there have been threats against my life. But it is difficult for the police to prove.''

Hansson laid some of the blame for the threats he has been receiving on the media, who he feels have fuelled the situation.

He said: "I find it odd that it never, or hardly ever, gets mentioned when the referees are doing something good, only when it is something that is questionable.

"Since it has been in all the newspapers it's been so bad. When you make a big mistake, it should certainly show, but when it is rewritten in the days and weeks that follow it becomes too much.''

Despite all the problems Hansson insists he will not quit the game, as his compatriot Anders Frisk did after receiving similar threats following a game between Chelsea and Barcelona in 2005.

"I know that it is not worth getting upset about it, and I'll keep on refereeing because I like it,'' he said. "I want to continue to believe that football can do a lot of good and it would be sad if these dark forces had any influence on me.

"I thought about quitting, absolutely, but I have made my decision to continue. But I never considered it (quitting) as much as right now.''


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