Referee Ovrebo quits international stage

OSLO - Norwegian official Tom Henning Ovrebo has decided to quit international refereeing after not being picked for this year's World Cup.

"This is based on signals Norway's Football Association got from UEFA about prospects for further assignments," Ovrebo told Reuters on Friday, adding his retirement was "no big drama" as he was only about one year away from UEFA's age limit.

The 43-year-old hit the headlines when he received death threats after rejecting several penalty appeals by Chelsea in their Champions League semi-final with Barcelona in 2009.

"Some will remember me for the Chelsea-Barcelona game in particular, but I can live well with that," Ovrebo said, adding he had hoped to make it to South Africa.

"Tom Henning and his team had a big goal to get to the World Cup but didn't succeed," Rune Pedersen, the head of Norwegian referees, told Reuters earlier on Friday.

He added that Ovrebo, who has handled 23 Champions League matches since 2001 and numerous internationals including Euro 2008, will be over the age limit for Euro 2012.

The Chelsea match at Stamford Bridge finished 1-1 but Barca reached the final on away goals and British media reported that Ovrebo had to be smuggled out of England under police escort.

Chelsea condemned the threats after the highly-charged game, which was settled by Andres Iniesta's late goal and followed by a confrontation between striker Didier Drogba and Ovrebo.

"He (Ovrebo) has had 16 years internationally... there have been good achievements and some tough matches like Chelsea-Barcelona and Bayern-Fiorentina," said Pedersen.

"Chelsea have been against other referees as well and they have not always behaved well so if they see this as a victory, I think they are mistaken," he added.

In this year's Champions League last-16 tie between Bayern Munich and Fiorentina, the Italians protested to the linesman after Ovrebo allowed a Miroslav Klose goal in a 2-1 first leg win which both coaches agreed was several metres offside.

Bayern face Inter Milan in the final on Saturday.

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