A former Football Association regional manager was given a suspended jail sentence on Monday for spying on the emails of a colleague to get her the sack.
Dean Mohareb, 30, gained unauthorised access to the email account of the FA's former regional referee manager for education and training, Janie Frampton, Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester heard.
Ms Frampton was sacked by the FA for misconduct, the court heard, after emails were leaked to the press alleging she offered match tickets to an FA Cup tie between Everton and Liverpool in exchange for an upgrade on a flight to the USA.
Mohareb, 33, of Weybourne Drive, Woodley, Stockport, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to an offence of unauthorised computer access and a second count of unauthorised computer access with intent to pervert the course of justice, between April and June 2012.
Passing sentence Judge Bernard Lever described the episode as a "sorry and discreditable business" but questioned "why on Earth" this "storm in a teacup" had ended up in a criminal court.
He gave the defendant a 10 week jail term, suspended for two years. Mohareb was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,200.
Earlier Nigel Booth, prosecuting, told the court Miss Frampton had a poor working relationship with Mohareb and kept an email folder, titled Insurance detailing examples of perceived unfair treatment.
In April 2012 the Daily Mail published the story claiming she offered match tickets for an upgrade.
The FA's most senior woman in the referees department was dismissed after a series of leaked emails were published in the press suggesting Frampton had offered tickets to the all-Merseyside FA Cup semi-final in 2012 to a flight steward in return for upgrades on a British Airways flight for herself and three female referees on a work trip.
She had given Mohareb her work email password previously and spotted one of her emails had been forwarded to an email account, pinkladyref - which was traced back to Mohareb.
Mohareb, a father-of-two, was sacked by the FA and the police called in.
Ahmed Nadim, mitigating, said: "As a result of his stupidity he's lost his employment, he describes as a dream job."
Ms Frampton has since been re-employed by the FA in a different capacity, the court heard.
At the same hearing Liam Cliff, 21, of Woodlands Road, Manchester was sentenced to two months in jail, suspended for two years, after admitting attempting to pervert the course of justice by initially telling police he had accessed the emails on Ms Frampton's laptop.
His relation, Vincent Rossi, 48, of Wingfield Avenue, Wilmslow was acquitted of attempting to pervert the course of justice after the prosecution offered no evidence.