SPAIN’S first openly gay football referee has quit the game after being subjected to abuse during matches.
Twenty-one-year-old Jesus Tomillero has been a referee since the age of 11, and came out publicly in March this year when he submitted a formal complaint against a kit man from the Peña Madridista Linense U-19 team, who received a paltry nine-match ban and €30 fine for unleashing a string of homophobic abuse following a disputed offside decision.
The Cadiz native has been refereeing games in the Andalucian regional league, but now says he “cannot take any more,” after receiving further insults in several matches since, culminating in the entire crowd laughing at him during a tie between Portuense and San Fernando Isleño on Saturday May 7.
He relayed his decision to the Andalucian football federation after the fixture, expressing his disappointment that the governing body have ignored him completely to date; the March sanctions were handled by local authorities in Cadiz since the game took place in La Linea de la Concepcion.
He had described the penalties handed to the Peña Madridista Linense kit man as “absolutely incredible” given that “football is a tool for educating 14 and 15-year-olds,” and hopes that harsher punishment will be dished out following his latest formal complaint, which is backed by the match day delegate from San Fernando Isleño.
Tomillero has received support by political parties in La Linea, and says that many of the game’s “thousands” of gay referees who are “too afraid to come out” have called him to offer encouragement.