John Fleming, Scottish FA referees chief, dies at 62 after long illness

SFA referees chief John Fleming, who has died at the age of 62 following a long illness
SFA referees chief John Fleming, who has died at the age of 62 following a long illness
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John Fleming, the Scottish FA's Head of Refereeing Operations has died at the age of 62 after a long illness.

Mr Fleming had headed up the association's referee operations for eight years after serving as a top-flight ref.

Fleming during his refereeing days

Fleming during his refereeing days

He was appointed a category one official in 1994 and served as a FIFA assistant referee between 1994 and 1997, taking part in UEFA Euro 96 as part of the Scottish officiating team.

A statement from Scottish football's governing body read: "John was a respected member of the association’s senior management team and beloved by the refereeing community, among whom his loss will be felt most profoundly.

"Although his role came with public profile, John was a private man who drew strength from his continued commitment to refereeing even while in ill health."

Mr Fleming joined the SFA's referee development department in 2009, overseeing the training and development of match officials at all levels, and was responsible for bringing in a new structure to boost referee recruitment and retention.

He was highly regarded throughout the world game, and was appointed a Referee Observer for UEFA, working alongside leading referees such as Pierluigi Collina and Massimo Busacca on the Technical Advisory Panel of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) - the lawmakers of world football - and played a key role in Scotland hosting the organisation's 133rd AGM earlier this year.

SFA President Rod Petrie paid tribute to Mr Fleming, saying: “John was a private man and many people will be shocked to learn of his passing after an illness borne with fortitude.

"His commitment was unstinting to the game, his refereeing colleagues and the association.

“He worked tirelessly in support of his match officials, whom he considered an extended family. He undertook his responsibilities as Head of Referee Operations with passion and integrity, qualities that met with respect across the game: in boardrooms, in dressing rooms and, of course, in referees’ rooms.

“I know I speak on behalf of the board, John’s friends and colleagues within the Scottish FA, the referee community and clubs across the country in saying that we will miss a trusted colleague, a man of honour and principle, and a dear friend.”

Mr Fleming is survived by his children Dawn and Graham, and three grandchildren.