Mohammed Al-Hakim. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT
A Swedish football referee became a global celebrity this week after a Facebook page where he explained all his decisions went viral. But Mohammed Al-Hakim has announced he's now closed it down after becoming overwhelmed by its success.
Al-Hakim, 30, launched his Facebook page last month in the hope that his online honesty about his decisions on the pitch would help people to better understand his job and even encourage other Swedes to consider careers as referees.
“I want to increase the accessibility in the football family,” he told Swedish site Fotbollskanalen.
In one of his most-read posts on the page he accepted that he should have dealt out a penalty in a high profile game between IFK Norrköping and Stockholm's AIK.
“I should have given a penalty yesterday. Full stop. Now I have seen what you surely have seen already. I’ve seen the replays a few times and looked at stills and different angles.”
News of the page went viral earlier this week as global media, including the Huffington Post, the Guardian and the Daily Mirror picked up the story and praised his efforts at encouraging transparency in the sport.
Al Hakim has a reputation as one of Sweden's most promising referees in Sweden's top-level league, Allsvenskan. But on Friday he told the Swedish Football Association's website that he had been overwhelmed by the attention and was blowing the whistle on his initiative.
“It was really fun, but I simply can't manage it anymore. I have two jobs, a family and a referee career to think about,” he said.
However he said he was pleased that his idea had captured the world's attention.
“It was really great. They [journalists] rang from all over the world and I got to tell them about the initiative and why I thought it was good.”
“It's very sad,” he added, reflecting on the end of his idea. “I got a lot of great feedback.”
The Local has been unable to reach Al-Hakim, although we did briefly speak to his younger brother who uses one of the referee's old mobile phones.
“I'm his little brother. He's the one everyone is talking about,” laughed the boy.