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Referee Mark Clattenburg quitting England for Saudi Arabia

The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) Mark Clattenburg, who refereed the top games in world soccer in 2016, is quitting the English Premier League for a job in Saudi Arabia.

Clattenburg will take up a job with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, the English refereeing organization announced on Thursday, without specifying the role.

Former Premier League referee Howard Webb has been director of referees for the Saudis, but he was hired last week by Major League Soccer to lead the development of video technology for on-field officials.

The 41-year-old Clattenburg, whose departure date from the Premier League is yet to be announced, revealed in an interview with The Associated Press in December that he would like a job outside England.

Clattenburg refereed the finals of the European Championship, Champions League and FA Cup last year.

The Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the organization which provides and trains officials for the English leagues, said Clattenburg had been "setting standards for others to follow."

"Mark is a talented referee, he has been a great asset to the English game, and hopefully an inspiration to those who want to get into refereeing at the grass roots of the game," the PGMOL said. "We understand this is an exciting opportunity for Mark as well as further underlining what high esteem English match officials are held throughout the world game."

Clattenburg has been a FIFA referee since 2006 and was in charge for the Olympic men's soccer final at the London Games in 2012.

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