A referee who faced threats he would be stabbed by an under-10s football coach has warned that teams could soon find themselves unable to play organised games.
Sporting bodies appeared before an Oireachtas committee this afternoon to discuss ways of tackling the abuse of referees in amateur sports.
The committee heard that the FAI has dealt with 34 cases of refs being physically assaulted in the last two years.
Meanwhile, the IRFU has had 27 reports of officials being abused this year alone.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Newstalk reporter Henry McKean said he went to watch some football matches to get a taste of the atmosphere facing referees up and down the country.
One of the referees told Henry an under-10s coach recently threatened to stab him after a game.
“It is an awkward one because I know where he comes from and it’s the same local area as me,” he said.
“It was at the end of the game. The game was finished and he approached me after it. We had words and I said, I’m actually from the same area as you so you couldn’t call me a homer referee and he said: ‘If I see you there, I’ll stab you.’
“He caught me by surprise so I walked away and about five or ten seconds later, it kicked in and I thought, no I don’t need to take that.
“So, I walked after him and I said excuse me can I have your name and he walked away. I kept up after him and asked him again and he says no.”
He said he eventually got the name from some other coaches that were there and informed the league what had happened.
“They asked me what did I want to do,” he said. “They said, send it in if you want but there is another way to approach it if you feel you may have let the situation get to that between the two of you.
“I was advised to take my own report and keep it at home and if anything was to come of it, I would have it there.”
No ref, no match
Earlier this month, around 550 games in the North Dublin Schoolboys/Girls League (NDSL) were cancelled after referees threatened to go on strike.
The referee speaking to Henry said players, parents and coaches need to realise that they could soon find themselves unable to play at all.
“Without the referee, there is no match,” he said. “End of story.”
“We need refs. These coaches have to learn when they are dealing with young men to teach them how to control themselves in the actual game itself.
“It is very hard to take aggression out of the game because part of football is being aggressive but they have to kind of control their heads and learn that end of it too. I think the coaches have to pass that on to the players.”
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