A male referee in England who put several female officials “through hell” by impersonating them on the dating app Tinder has been banned from all football-related activities until 2019, it was announced on Thursday.
Connor Mayes set up fake accounts pretending to be women’s FA Cup final referee Lucy Oliver, as well as referees Amy Robinson and Paula Wyatt.
He was banned by the Hampshire Football Association in southern England after admitting an improper conduct charge.
The BBC reported Mayes knew Oliver -- wife of Premier League referee Michael Oliver -- after working with her at county-level matches.
He had also been one of her students when she worked at a college in the south of England.
Mayes’ fake accounts led social media users to believe the women were acting flirtatiously and they received unsolicited approaches.
The Women in Football support group called on England’s national Football Association to offer assistance to the match officials.
“Lucy, Amy and Paula have been through hell, with their reputations tarnished and their confidence shattered,” Women in Football said in a statement.
“Mr Mayes can return to football in three years as if nothing has happened but the women need FA-sponsored counselling now to help them recover from this traumatic online abuse and to ensure that they can continue as highly successful referees.”
An FA spokesman told the BBC they had been in “regular contact” with the victims to offer “assistance and guidance”.