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NFL referees agree deal with league to end lockout

A referee takes his position on the sideline during an NFL preseason football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Washington Redskins in Landover, Maryland, August 25, 2012.

The National Football League (NFL) reached an agreement to end a labour dispute with its regular game officials last night, ending three weeks of questionable calls that had threatened the integrity of the sport.

The eight-year deal with the NFL Referees Association (NFLRA) will allow locked-out officials to return to action for this week's games after replacements had struggled to act as cover for them in the early stages of the 2012 season.

"Our officials will be back on the field starting tonight," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a joint statement with the referees association yesterday.

"We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement."

The replacements had come under increasing scrutiny for a number of questionable calls, most recently a contentious decision that affected the outcome of Monday's primetime game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.

The tipping point came when the Seahawks were awarded a last-ditch, game-winning touchdown against the Packers despite replays showing that a Green Bay defenseman had made an interception.

The public outcry was severe, compounding the league's displeasure with sub-standard officiating that had upset fans, coaches and players alike.

New England coach Bill Belichick was fined for making contact with a referee on Sunday, while Denver coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio were also fined for publicly criticizing officials following a loss last week.

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Tags:  NFL  Football  US  calls  threats  integrity  sports  commitment  lock out  





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