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Underage Referees Go On Strike Due To 'Threatening Behaviour'

Underage Referees Go On Strike Due To 'Threatening Behaviour'
By PJ Browne
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Games in the North Dublin Schoolboys/Girls League and in the Metropolitan Girls League this weekend have been called off due to abuse suffered by referees.

In a statement issued by Tony Gains, the honourary secretary and CEO of the leagues, it was said that referees have withdrawn their services due to "constant abuse and threatening behaviour from managers, players, coaches and supporters".

"This weekend a female referee refereeing her first game of three games was abused so badly from the time she entered the pitch, she decided that she is not taking any more of this abuse from these people and she has now decided to give up refereeing entirely," said Gains.

"Another young referee who has only been refereeing for the past 2 months was petrified on the pitch, he was so afraid even to collect his gear. This abuse he took was absolutely disgraceful.

"I have also informed our Disciplinary Committee to have zero tolerance when it comes to these matters and to penalise these culprits where it hurts. Let me remind all our clubs you are responsible for the conduct of managers, players, coaches and supporters.

"This is a sad day for football and I hope we will learn from what is happening this weekend."

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Gains later said that officers of the leagues had met and are in agreement with the decision by the referees. It was added that there will be a dialogue with officials regarding future matches.

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Sean Slattery, the vice president of the Irish Soccer Referees' Society, told RTÉ Radio 1 that 550 games will be affected by the strike.

"We were made aware this morning that there were a number of incidents yesterday. With the referees contacting each other, it was decided a lot of them were going to make themselves unavailable for games next weekend," he said.

"It's like it's been pushed too far at this stage.

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"The feeling is, there are sanctions there [for unruly behaviour] under the current FAI rules and there's no need for new ones, it's just the enforcement of them is our problem. It's not just in this league, it's nationwide. There's problems in other counties."

Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

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