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FAI hit back at claims they are not doing enough to stamp out violence against referees

20-year-old official Harry McCann said an U13 manager attempted “to strike me” in a game on Saturday.

A view of FAI HQ in Abbotstown.
A view of FAI HQ in Abbotstown.
Image: ©INPHO

THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION of Ireland have issued a statement condemning “any threat of violence against a referee” amid recent claims they are failing to tackle the problem.

The organisation added that any such incidents should be reported to the authorities.

20-year-old referee Harry McCann, who has officiated in the Kildare and District Underage League, said an U13 manager attempted “to strike me” in a game on Saturday and tweeted that he had decided to quit “after four years of abuse and violent threats”.

McCann went on to suggest the FAI were not doing enough to curb the problem.

He wrote: “After years of reports and complaints going ignored and unresponsded [sic] to, I have lost confidence in the local leagues and the FAI.

“There seems to be no plan or strategy in place to deal with abusive parents and managers, and this is destroying the game at all levels.

“The IRFU and other sporting bodies have enforced zero tolerance policies on sidelines successfully, and this helps to protect match officials and players. The FAI have been unable to do this, and this has slowly ruined the game.

“The lack of action being taken against abusive parents and managers is putting referees at serious risk. There have been far too many referees assaulted in recents [sic] months, and I’m not going to wait around to be another name on the list of referees who have ended up in hospital.”

Violence against referees, particularly at grassroots level, has long been a serious problem in football. 

In a 2017 interview with The42, current League of Ireland referee Rob Rogers described how he was once “struck” by a player in one of a series of reported incidents that have blighted the sport.

The association, however, say they are doing everything within their power to alleviate these problems. Their full statement reads: “The Football Association of Ireland is aware of media reports of threats of violence against a referee in a Kildare and District Underage League game at the weekend.

“The FAI condemns any threat of violence against a referee and will take action against anyone found guilty of any behavior that threatens a referee, verbally or physically.

“To date, the FAI has received no report from the referee in question in relation to this incident or any previous incident. In such instances, the referee is instructed to report any incident to his own League and, under new rules introduced following a serious assault on an official last year, the League is obliged to forward any report of an assault on a referee directly to the FAI’s Disciplinary Control Unit.

“No such report has been received as yet from the Kildare and District Underage League in relation to the alleged incident at the weekend.

“The FAI would welcome direct contact from the referee involved and will be contacting the Kildare and District Underage League directly in relation to this alleged threat.

“The FAI would like to reassure this referee and all referees that a zero tolerance policy is in effect in relation to any threats against match officials.”

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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