THE World Cup dream of Moray’s MP Douglas Ross is over.
Mr Ross said he was quitting his job as an international-level football linesman with immediate effect.
The announcement followed criticism of Mr Ross for missing a parliamentary vote on Universal Credit last Wednesday to officiate at a European Champions League game in Barcelona.
Mr Ross said: "I gave a commitment during the election that I would not allow my refereeing to interfere with my parliamentary duties. I did not break that commitment when I agreed to officiate in the Nou Camp last week.
"In this case I had been ‘paired’ with an opposition member in the event of a vote (a common practice at Westminster to be cancelled out with an opposition member, so as not to affect any vote by not being present).
"I also knew I would be unable to speak in the debate because of the number of my Scottish Conservative colleagues who had already requested to contribute.
"I would also add that less than a week later I was able to speak in another debate on Universal Credit, as it is an important issue that is discussed regularly in the house and committees.
"That said, my political opponents and some local people believed it was unacceptable that I should miss any debate in parliament regardless of whether I would be able to contribute or not.
"I am not immune to the criticism received and reflected on this."
Mr Ross was part of a three-man team – two linesman and a referee – shortlisted to officate at the World Cup in Russia.
Mr Ross said: "I have been a referee for almost 15 years now. My first local game was in the Forres Welfare league.
"I never thought after that match I could go on to represent my country at international level and share a pitch with some of football’s greatest players.
"I also never thought when I was elected as a local councillor that one day I would have the honour of representing my home area as member of parliament at Westminster.
"I have been blessed to reach the top level in my chosen hobby and occupation.
"In all fairness to my No.1 priority, as Moray’s MP, I recognise I can no longer do both.
"This week I have taken the decision to inform the football