A prominent international referee has been suspended for alleged alcohol abuse after he had to be helped off the pitch at a Belarus league match.
Sergei Shmolik, who officiated at Wembley for England's 6-0 victory over Luxembourg in 1999, was escorted off the pitch, ostensibly because of back pain, at the end of Saturday's match between Vitebsk and Naftan.
The stadium crowd were stunned by Shmolik's peculiar behaviour. The referee was hardly moving by the end of the match, which ended in a 1-1 draw, as he officiated the game from the centre circle, refusing to go to his pocket for any cards throughout.
Russian television footage shows Shmolik, only last year voted the best referee in Belarus, waving to the crowd as he staggers off the pitch, attempting to brush off an official's attempts to prop him up.
The 43-year-old was later was taken to the hospital for a test, which showed high levels of alcohol in his system.
The Belarus football federation said Shmolik's case will be subject to a disciplinary committee.
"I haven't seen a drunk referee before. It's just beyond my comprehension," said Belarus national coach Berndt Stange, who was at the game.
A Belarus Football Federation spokesman said: "We cannot comment until the end of investigation into what happened in Vitebsk. At the moment Shmolik is suspended from his refereeing duties."