Interview by Ian Kerr
Australian ex-pat Ben Williams (not the referee) woke up the other day with a boatload of friend requests from Iran. Within 24 hours he became a media sensation, being interviewed by BBC Middle East and being labelled an American by FoxSports. Oh well. Anyway, we caught up with him to talk about the Ben-Williams-Referee palaver.
Did you receive any Iranian friend requests after the Iraq vs Bahrain game a week or so ago?
I knew of Ben Williams from the World Cup. At the time it was like a cool little piece of trivia and I was a minor source of amusement at the office but not once have I ever been confused for Referee Ben Williams.
The Facebook profile photo is a problem. After a few drinks you could be confused with the A-League’s second-favourite Canberran.
Yeah, I can see that at a cursory glance we are similar enough. I have written to Referee Ben Williams and encouraged him to go fat and bald during the controversy. I haven’t received a response.
Who’s more unpopular in Iran: you or George W Bush?
Referee Ben Williams is certainly the least popular. Personally, my popularity is soaring. Since my BBC interview I have been inundated with apologies, endorsement requests and love letters. Right now the endorsements are mostly for hemorrhoid relief and the love letters are from older gentlemen but, you know, baby steps.
Have you received an apology from Referee Ben Williams for besmirching the name?
Referee Ben Williams has been suspiciously silent.
Have you ever refereed a football game?
I once attended an futsal match at the Sunshine YCW… there was no referee or other crowd members so…?
What’s it like to be the unwitting target of an internet hate campaign?
Amusing mostly, because any real threat is aimed at someone 10,000 miles away.
I’m also inspired by everyone’s creativity with just a stock porn photo, my face and Photoshop.
What was your favourite threat?
I think “Eat my penis. Judging by the phallus” is my favorite because I imagine him cogitating on his exact choice of words and coming up with this cryptic insult. There’s plenty more of my favourites, including some wonderful graphics, available on my Facebook page.
Is this going on your CV? e.g. 2015: target of social media hate campaign
Yes, along with the hashtag that one of my Iranian supporters has started: #JeSuisBenjaminWilliams
“I am sorry for my insult this morning any way but you have the same name as that mother fuker. so fuck you. send my regard to your mommy.
Thanks Ben. Enjoy your infamy, and good luck with those crocodile penises.