Referee ‘offered out in the car park’ by parent at children’s match and threatened after game in Worksop
A Sunday league referee was ‘offered out in the car park’ by a parent in front of children at a youth football match.
The Sheffield & District Junior Sunday Football League-registered official was taking charge of an under-16s game when the incident took place in Chesterfield on Sunday.
And later in the day, the same referee needed an escort to the car park following further threats after accusations of bias at an under-18s match in Worksop.
Meanwhile, a 15-year-old referee was left in tears on Saturday following an argument with the manager of an under-11 girls team in Dronfield, who was unhappy with a decision he made.
“I just want a referee to be able to go to a game and feel safe, especially young referees or newly qualified refs,” said Simon Owen, league referee secretary.
“Even if they are in their 40s they don’t feel safe.”
Simon has been a Sunday league referee for 23 years after qualifying aged 15.
One year later, he was grabbed by the throat by an angry parent, who later received a police caution, while more recently he was kicked by a player for refusing to award his team a free-kick.
“It seems to be happening more and more,” he said of the abuse referees receive. “A lot is pent-up frustration from being locked down and football cancelled, but a lot is people thinking they can talk to someone in a black uniform different to anybody else.”
The referee threatened on Sunday was a military serviceman in his 40s.
“The dad offered to take him into the car park and give him a good hiding,” said Simon.
“He was calm and collected and carried on with the game. He’s reported it to the county FA.
“This is the second time I’ve had to talk him out of quitting. I think it’s the third time he’s been threatened this season.”
The youngster left in tears has also reported his incident to Sheffield & Hallamshire FA.
The majority of coaches, players and spectators are well-behaved, said Simon, who admitted there is no simple solution.
He said: “If I can get a team where we can have a bit of banter and they know where the boundary is – a lot of them are like that – I love it and the buzz of it.
“I would like to see the FAs have more power (to enforce harsher punishments). I would like to see repeat offending teams removed from leagues, but you are then spoiling it for 15 children who want to play football.
"If it’s a spectator, he needs banning, but then who brings his child to football? Then you are punishing a kid for something an adult has done.”
A Sheffield & Hallamshire FA spokesman said: “We treat any form of abuse or unacceptable behaviour on a referee with the utmost seriousness and will ensure the strongest possible action is taken against the perpetrators.
“We offer support for referees at all levels of the game and we urge any official who has experienced abuse to report their concerns as soon as possible via the FA’s Whole Game System or directly to the County FA.”