Stopping football ref abuse
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.’’