Suffolk assaults on football referees up 100%

FOOTBALL: Assaults on referees in Suffolk have doubled in the last year and County Football Association chief executive Martin Head has outlined plans to improve this worrying trend.

In February the FA announced that assaults nationally were down 26% to 226.

In Suffolk the figures for local park (grassroots) and supply league football are not so good, with 17 cases this season, an increase of over 100%.

Suffolk FA county referees’ secretary Tony Trevers is working to bring about an improvement and is receiving full backing from Head.

“We are looking to improve matters and Tony has produced an analysis of the situation,” said Head.

“And we are looking for the backing of leagues, clubs and players to stop the downward trend in the county.”

After investigating the 17 Suffolk cases, Trevers said: “We need to understand why players resort to this type of behaviour, and why in Suffolk we seem to buck the national trend.

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“They are difficult questions to answer but ones that every person involved in Suffolk football must try and solve.

“But at the same time ensuring that none of the passion or the thrill of winning goes out of the game.

“Football is a passionate game and whether playing for a Premier League team or for a Sunday League side the thrill of winning is a great emotion.

“However, there are times when players’ emotions and the desire to win get out of hand and lead to the uglier side of our beautiful game.

“Referees, like players, make mistakes.

“They also make honest and unbiased decisions that players do not always understand or agree with, and this leads to frustration.

“At its worse these frustrations lead to a player taking it out on the referee.

“On the vast majority of occasions this is in the form of verbal comments, however we have seen too many assaults this season in Suffolk.

“The word ‘assault’ covers a wide range of actions but irrespective of what they are each and every one cannot be justified, and this behaviour must be eradicated from the game.

“Thankfully to date none of the physical injuries have been serious but we do not know what sort of psychological effects these have caused.

“Pleasingly all of the referees concerned have remained in the game but sooner or later one is bound to say ‘enough is enough’ and walk away, leaving one less game having a match official.”

Once the incident has been reported by the referee to the County FA the player in question is automatically suspended while the discipline process is followed.

In most of Suffolk’s cases this season it has resulted in the player being fined �150 and suspended for 182 days.

In addition, some cases have been reported to the police, which have resulted in further action against the player concerned, but which is outside the jurisdiction of footballing authorities.