The three players who were involved in the assault of referee Daniel Sweeney have received 40 year bans. The bans will relate to any FAI related competition or activity, essentially ending their involvement with football in the Republic of Ireland.
The three men, all of whom are Mullingar Town players, seriously assaulted the referee after he abandoned their team's match against Horseleap United. The incident took place in the carpark after the game, with the referee suffering a broken jaw and eye socket injury.
A fourth man, who was a spectator at the game, was also involved in the assault. The person in question was already serving a ban related to the assault of another referee in 2007, with his suspension now extended to a lifetime expulsion.
The Combined Counties Football League CCFL) issued a statement on the matter:
The recent assault on CCFL match official Daniel Sweeney resulted in local, national and international headlines. The vicious, unprecedented level of violence directed at Daniel was unprovoked, unwarranted and unjustifiable.
The incidents that occurred at the end and in the aftermath of this football game are not representative of the magnificent work undertaken by the volunteers in the administration, playing and refereeing of association football in our league or across any of the great leagues under the jurisdiction of the FAI.
Other sanctions imposed include a €500 fine for the club for failing to control their players.
40 year bans from football for the players that attacked referee Daniel Sweeney pic.twitter.com/R9hI0RcX35
— Will O'Callaghan (@willocallaghan) November 23, 2018
The assault received international media attention, being picked up by outlets such as the BBC.
The problem of abuse of referees has become an increasingly prevalent one in recent years, although the abuse rarely becomes physical. Both the CCFL and FAI will no doubt have wanted to lay down a marker in this case to prevent similar incidents in the future, something they have done by imposing bans of this severity.
The Gardaí investigation into the matter remains ongoing.