Stop­ping foot­ball ref abuse

North Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - FELIC­ITY REID

A ju­nior foot­ball game came to an abrupt end af­ter a ref­eree was abused by a spec­ta­tor.

The ju­nior match played on the North Shore on July 1 was ref­er­eed by a par­ent.

The Al­bany United Foot­ball Club board sent an email to club mem­bers on July 7 to re­mind them that the club has a ‘‘zero tol­er­ance at­ti­tude to­wards this sort of event’’.

‘‘The in­ci­dent from last week­end is a direct breach of re­spect to­wards the ref­eree. Re­mem­ber the ref­eree has the whis­tle and his or her call on the field is fi­nal,’’ the email said.

North­ern Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer John Limna said ‘‘there is no place for that type of be­hav­iour’’ at any level of the game. This sea­son, Limna said the fed­er­a­tion had fo­cused on re­duc­ing the oc­cur­rences of ref­eree abuse and mak­ing clubs be ac­count­able.

North­ern Foot­ball over­sees around 17,000 games per sea­son. In the 2016 sea­son, 190 cards were is­sued for dis­sent or abuse of the ref­eree. Limna said this equates to roughly one in 10 cards be­ing given to play­ers specif­i­cally for this trans­gres­sion. Dis­sent or abuse of the of­fi­cial can range from dis­agree­ing with a ref’s call to swear­ing.

At just over the half­way point of the cur­rent foot­ball sea­son, 81 cards have been is­sued in the North­ern Foot­ball re­gion for ref­eree abuse.

‘‘We can still do bet­ter than this. We would like to see zero cards for ref­eree abuse. It is a be­havioural thing that can be con­trolled,’’ Limna said.

Limna has been ref­er­ee­ing some of his son’s 12th grade games and said he and other par­ents are just do­ing their bit to help out.

‘‘Ref­er­ees and coaches are vol­un­teers do­ing it for the love of the game. We are hu­man, we make mis­takes. It seems very strange to me that some peo­ple think [abuse] is ac­cept­able,’’ Limna said.

The fed­er­a­tion can im­pose sanc­tions on a player, team or club if in­ci­dences of ref­eree abuse con­tinue, but Limna would pre­fer clubs took the ini­tia­tive and dealt with the is­sue across their mem­ber­ship.

‘‘I have been en­cour­aged by the steps clubs are tak­ing where in­ci­dents have oc­curred,’’ Limna said. ‘‘Some clubs have been very proac­tive.’’

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