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Rugby referee Nigel Owens hits out at behaviour of football players and managers

Rugby referee Nigel Owens has hit out at the "unacceptable behaviour" of top footballers and managers towards officials in the sport.

The Welsh referee, among the 12-strong Rugby World Cup 2015 panel, admitted he would relish taking charge of a top-level soccer contest.

"It's unacceptable behaviour," Owens told this week's Radio Times.

"I'd love to give refereeing football a go. I'm afraid they'd be down to five-a-side before half-time.

"If you had coaches in rugby having a go at referees like Jose Mourinho and some others do, they'd be dealt with more firmly."

Owens has the emergency services to thank for saving his life after he was minutes away from death during a suicide attempt 17 years ago.

Now a top-class referee, Owens was then struggling to come to terms with his homosexuality.

Since that incident Owens has turned his life around and risen to the pinnacle of rugby refereeing.

Owens believes rugby is now fully accepting of stars coming out, but admits to reservations about football.

"You can't blame rugby and say it's not safe [to come out]. It is safe. That's been proven."

When asked if he would have come out as a football referee, he said: "I don't know.

"There's a bigger minority with a louder voice in football, which would've made it more difficult."

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