Tension as ‘big game’ ref receives death threats

Police in Madeira are on high alert today (Monday) as the referee for tonight’s big game between Nacional da Madeira and Benfica received death threats for the third time in almost as many months.
This time the threats extended to Manuel Mota’s 13-year-old daughter, and the referee’s butcher shop in Vila Verde was once again daubed in sinister warnings.
As the Portuguese referees’ council opted not to substitute Mota tonight – as this would “give importance” to the threats – José Gomes of the Portuguese association of referees told Correio da Manhã newspaper that threats to his associates were “getting more and more constant”.
“We’re destroying football with this environment on a par with the Third World,” he said, calling for “stiff measures”, both fines and punishments, to combat the tendency.
Meantime, Mota’s friends say the 36-year-old has been badly shaken by the latest threats which extended to his family for the first time.
Last December, after allowing a controversial goal in a game between Sporting and Nacional, one of Mota’s butcher shops was daubed with slogans warning him to ‘respect the lion’ (referring to the Sporting symbol).
In January, after adjudicating in a match that saw Sporting crash out of the running for the football league cup, another of his shops had their windows broken.
But this latest threat is the worst yet.
“If the ‘mouros’ win (meaning Benfica), you will get what you deserve. You and your daughter,” said a letter delivered to Mota’s shop in Vila Verde. “One bullet will be enough.”
As the PSP prepare to control fans with iron precision tonight, Correio da Manhã reports that Mota’s latest death threats may well be turned over to the PJ, because of their “gravity and persistence”.
The match is being shown live on Sport TV at 8pm.