The abuse of referees and their assistants is, sadly, nothing new. It’s been going on since time immemorial.
An official is the person whom most people love to hate, to direct their ire and displeasure at, and to belittle and denigrate at every given opportunity.
Well, enough is enough, so says a group of referees in Ireland. Such is, and was, the abuse week in and week out that they got together and issued an ultimatum to the leagues that the abuse has to stop.
And they have the backing of the Irish Soccer Referees Society in Dublin.
It’s estimated that as many as 870 teams in the North Dublin Schoolboys/Girls League (NDSL) and the Metropolitan Girls’ League (MGL) will not be playing matches as referees are withdrawing their services due to referee abuse while officiating underage games.
Your eyes are not deceiving you when you read this. I did say “underage games”. The abuse is apparently so bad that some promising up-and-coming referees have hung their whistles already.
Honorary secretary of the NDSL Tony Gains says the league has been thrown into chaos by the referees’ withdrawal.
Speaking to tabloid newspaper Irish Daily Star, Gains said “it’s been going on for a while. We had a club meeting a while ago and the clubs were told that if people continue to abuse referees, as well as managers, coaches [and other match] officials this was going to happen.”
He said the Football Association of Ireland had to get involved.
“I think people might realise that if they continue with this there will be no football whatsoever.”
“Without a referee you can’t have football. Most referees work alone. We don’t have enough referees for three officials for a game, so there is just one.”
The NDSL is the second-largest schoolboy/girl league in the country, while the MGL is the biggest stand-alone league for female players.
Frantic negotiations are ongoing to try and get the leagues back up and running. But the refereeing body is determined that unless something is done to stop the constant abuse of referees, particularly those just starting out, the stalemate will continue for some time to come.
I have suffered the same fate.
In fact, were it not for the PSL security guys I might not even be here today.
I was once taken out of grounds in South Africa in an armoured police car and at other times in the boot of a car.
I’m not telling you this to blow my own trumpet, nor do I want you to think that I’m some sort of super hero, buy merely to indicate that I’m speaking from experience. Believe me, it’s not nice and it’s even worse when you are a teenager.
The footballing authorities have to come down like a ton of bricks on the perpetrators and send out a clear and unambiguous message to all that such behaviour will not be tolerated. Otherwise games might go ahead, but there won’t be any boys or girls there to referee them.
It’s time for administrators to make up their mind.
Please stay safe and well out there. This pandemic is not over yet. Protect yourselves and your families, and observe all medical and scientific advice. No one is safe until everyone is safe.
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