Shield blows full time Print
Written by Philip Micallef, SBS   
Saturday, 20 September 2008 13:20

All over... Mark Shield has quit refereeing (Getty)Australia's top referee Mark Shield has dropped a bombshell by announcing his retirement.

His last game could be in Round 8 of the A-League.

Shield, 35, said family and business commitments were the main reasons behind his shock resignation.

 

"The constant travel was getting a bit too much," Shield said.

"We've got two young kids who need more attention and I'd like to concentrate more on my communications and accommodation businesses.

"At the moment I am away for about 25 weekends a season.

"Also the other day I worked it out that out of the last 10 years I must have been away for at least four years and that simply is not on."

Shield, who won't be in action this weekend, has also refereed his last international game, having controlled the 2010 World Cup qualifier between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Riyadh on September 6.

Queenslander Shield was not only Australia's undisputed top referee but one of Asia's most respected.

He has controlled matches in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and countless World Cup qualifiers.

He also was in charge of the second leg of the 2006 AFC Champions League final and last year he controlled the Asian Cup final between Iraq and Saudi Arabia in Indonesia and later was named the continent's top referee.

"That final match in front of a big crowd in Jakarta was the highlight of my career, without doubt," Shield said.

"I consider it my biggest achievement and it will live long in my memory."

Shield also controlled the A-League's three championship matches so far, including the last 'Vukovic Grand Final'  which he regards as the low point of his highly successful career.

"The way it was was blown up by the media was very disappointing," he said.

Shield's resignation has left Football Federation Australia with a gaping hole but the FFA did not stand in his way.

"Mark has been our top referee for the last decade," FFA head of public affairs Bonita Mersiades said.

"He has set high standards and we appreciate all the work he has done.

"We are sorry to see him go but we also realise that family comes first.

"We wish him all the best of luck in whatever he does next but also hope that he stays in touch with the game."